ECONOMY

BBVA to table offer to buy Egnatia Bank

Marfin Financial Group said yesterday that it expected Spanish bank Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria to make an offer for Egnatia Bank by the end of the week. Marfin Financial is a shareholder in Egnatia Bank and potentially is interested in bidding for it. «We are waiting to see the (BBVA) offer, to see if we can beat it,» Marfin Vice Chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos said yesterday. In Madrid, BBVA declined to comment. Vgenopoulos said if Marfin can’t top BBVA’s offer for Egnatia, it will divest its stake of nearly 15 percent in Egnatia for a «large capital gain.» Marfin isn’t looking at possible consolidation moves outside of the mid-capitalization banking sector, Vgenopoulos said. Greece is due to sell as much as a 24 percent stake in large-capitalization Emporiki Bank by the end of the first half of 2006. On Friday, Marfin said it had been advised by Dubai Financial of its intention to become the major shareholder of Marfin with plans to buy a 31.55 percent stake. Marfin shares ended the session yesterday 0.56 euros higher, or 2.2 percent, at 26.12. Shares of Egnatia Bank closed up 0.36 euros, or 6 percent, at 6.40 euros.