ECONOMY

Attica Bank puts off cash call vote until next month

Small Greek lender Attica Bank postponed to next month Monday’s shareholder vote on a 434-million-euro ($550.5 million) cash call to plug a capital shortfall, saying it needed more time to finalise talks with foreign investors.

Shareholders agreed to reconvene on Nov. 10 to vote on a plan for a reverse share split to reduce the number of the bank’s outstanding shares and an issue of new equity almost six times its current market worth of 75 million euros.

Attica, which is 51-percent owned by the engineers’ pension fund TSMEDE, plans to raise the funds through a rights issue to existing shareholders and a private placement with strategic investors.

“The bank has received interest from foreign funds to take part in the equity offering and is continuing talks aimed at a final deal,» Chairman Yannis Gamvrilis told shareholders.

Attica has hired UBS, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Clayton to find strategic investors to take part in its planned recapitalisation.

Gamvrilis told Reuters a mix of more than six investment funds had expressed interest in the offering, declining to disclose names.

“We asked for a time extension on the vote to reach an optimal result without being rushed,» he said.

A group of about 100 engineers insured by TSMEDE blocked the entrance to the shareholders meeting on Monday, opposed to the pension fund’s further investment in the bank.

TSMEDE has told management that it intends to take part in the cash call and exercise its rights for up to 51 percent of the planned offering, which is likely to cost about 208 million euros.

Attica has said the price of the new shares will not be lower than 0.30 euros after the planned reverse split. The shares traded flat at 0.072 euros on Monday.

[Reuters]