National Bank (NBG), Greece’s second-largest lender, will ask European Union competition authorities for more time to complete planned asset sales under an EU-approved restructuring plan, two bankers close to the matter have said.
NBG has been selling assets in the Balkans, including operations in Bulgaria, Albania, Romania and Turkey, as it downsizes to focus on its core domestic banking business. But it needs more time to complete the divestments beyond the end-2018 deadline previously agreed with EU authorities. Those assets include subsidiaries in Cyprus, Romania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as NBG’s insurance arm, Ethniki.
“Two months until the end of 2018 is potentially not enough to complete the plan,” one of the bankers, who declined to be named, told Reuters on Tuesday. As a result, the issue has to be officially referred to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, he added.
“NBG is preparing a proposal on the time frame it wants to conclude its divestments plan,” the banker said.
In the proposal NBG will explain why the planned asset sales haven’t been completed and outline next steps, eyeing an extended deadline.
Apart from seeking the sale of a 75 percent stake in Ethniki Insurance, NBG is looking for buyers for fully-owned Stopanska Banka in FYROM, which has around a 35 percent market share.