ECONOMY

Listing of the Postal Savings anticipated within the first half

Greece expects to raise about 400 to 450 million euros from the listing of the Postal Savings Bank on the Athens Stock Exchange by the first half of this year. Late on Monday, the Finance Ministry said that procedures «to list the state-owned Postal Savings Bank on the exchange have started,» with the plan envisaging a 10 percent equity swap with the Greek Postal Service (ELTA). Greece has earmarked privatization proceeds of 1.6 billion euros in this year’s budget to bring down its public debt to 109.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from an estimated 112.1 percent in 2004, among the highest in the eurozone. «The government hopes to raise about 400 to 450 million euros from the sale of 25 to 30 percent of Postal Savings Bank by the end of the first half,» a high-level Finance Ministry source told Reuters yesterday. Postal Savings Bank, with a deposit base of 10 billion euros, runs a network of 136 branches. Analysts say it could become a prized possession for big banks should the government eventually decide to fully privatize it. «The flotation of Postal Savings and its management’s new focus on retail banking could impact competition in Greek banking,» said analyst Thanos Ipirotis at Alpha Finance. «It could become a buyout target for large banks.» The planned 10 percent share swap with the Greek Postal Service seeks to take advantage of ELTA’s network of 800 points of sale throughout Greece, said Antonis Kaminaris, vice president of Postal Savings Bank. (Reuters)