NBG sees little foreign interest in Greek banks

National Bank’s chief executive said in a newspaper interview yesterday the likelihood of a foreign bank showing interest in buying a Greek bank was limited at this stage because of high valuations. CEO Takis Arapoglou told the Kerdos financial daily that the current valuations of Greek banks presently are higher than their European counterparts, for many and serious reasons. The head of Greece’s largest lender by assets said this was the main reason for the limited likelihood, at this time, that a Greek bank would be acquired by a foreign bank. «Cross-border mergers are not easy, as usually there aren’t operational synergies which justify economies of scale,» Arapoglou said. «On the contrary, it is easier to have, under certain circumstances, some deals within the country,» he added. He said the exception to this could be the acquisition by Western European banks of counterparts in emerging economies in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, with a view to gaining market share in countries with potential for development and high returns. Arapoglou also said economies of scale between the five major Greek banks were unlikely at present due to high profits from retail banking.

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