NBG seals Atlantic sale

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York Community Bancorp Inc. yesterday announced it would acquire Atlantic Bank of New York, a subsidiary of the National Bank of Greece, for $400 million (333 million euros) in cash. Manhattan-based Atlantic is a full-service commercial bank with assets of $3 billion, deposits of $1.8 billion, and 17 branches in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Nassau and Westchester Counties, as of June 30. New York Community, the No. 5 US thrift, said it expects the deal to close in the first quarter of 2006, pending regulatory approval, and to add to its earnings per share immediately. The company said it plans to enhance the earnings of the combined company by liquidating $1.3 billion of securities and using the proceeds to reduce the level of wholesale funding. When the deal is complete, Atlantic will operate as a division of New York Commercial Bank, the subsidiary of New York Community to be established in connection with its pending acquisition of Long Island Financial Corp., announced on Aug. 1. Bear, Stearns & Co. and Citigroup Global Markets advised New York Community in the deal. National Bank of Greece was advised by Morgan Stanley and Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP. Proceeds for acquisitions National Bank, Greece’s largest lender, announced yesterday it will use proceeds from the sale of Atlantic to fund acquisitions in southeastern Europe. National Bank plans to focus on high-growth markets where it has a comparative advantage. «The proceeds will partially fund NBG’s acquisitions plan in the wider area of southeastern Europe,» the group said in a statement. National Bank is currently present in Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and Serbia. When National Bank unveiled its 2005-2007 business plan earlier this year, management said the bank planned to expand in core geographical areas, expecting market growth in Greece and the Balkans to remain strong over the next three years.