ECONOMY

BNP-Greek deal?

French banking giant BNP-Paribas is in «advanced» talks with a major Greek group concerning either cooperation at share capital level or a takeover, the Eleftherotypia daily reported yesterday. Citing French banking sources, the daily did not identify the Greek target but noted that it is «a bank with a strong Balkan presence, which is what motivates the interest of BNP-Paribas and of other important French banks.» According to the same sources, «the talks could be in such an advanced state to make final agreement a matter of a few weeks,» Eleftherotypia said. Greece’s major banking players in the Balkans are the National Bank of Greece (NBG), Eurobank and Alpha Bank, followed by Piraeus Bank, the newspaper said. Greek banking houses control some 13 percent of the Balkan banking market, and are making fresh inroads with investments in Serbia-Montenegro, Bosnia and Albania, it said. During the summer of 2001, Alpha Bank and BNP Paribas had discussions on a possible tie-up. Although not formally broken off, the talks did not resume because of economic uncertainty after the September 11 attacks on the United States. (AFP)