ECONOMY

Greek banks want to speed up return to wider private ownership

Some of Greece’s biggest banks and their advisers are starting to press the country’s banking rescue fund to look at ways to speed up their return to wider private ownership, banking sources say.

The Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) was set up to recapitalize the top four banks and cover the cost of winding down others deemed non-viable.

The HFSF duly took majority stakes in these banks in the summer with the injection of new equity capital and, with the exception of Eurobank, private investors agreed to buy at least 10 percent of the new equity and got the option to eventually buy out the HFSF with the issue of warrants on all of its shares.

However, Piraeus, Alpha and National Bank now face being stuck with over 80 percent ownership by the HFSF until the warrants, which currently trade at a premium, reach their final exercise dates in late 2017 for Alpha and National Bank and January 2018 for Piraeus.

[Reuters]