NBG unionists seek to postpone assembly that will OK Turk deal

Employees at the National Bank of Greece are expected to push for a postponement of the bank’s annual general meeting in protest at the management’s move to acquire Turkey’s Finansbank. According to sources, the employees’ union, which has a 6.2 percent stake in National Bank, will ask for the AGM’s postponement in order to be «better informed» about the acquisition of Finansbank. The bank’s management fears that this could lead to a further delay in the merger procedure: it has been trying for some 50 days to ensure a quorum to approve the merger. Given the recent tumble of National’s share – it has lost nearly 15 percent since Monday, May 8, closing at 33.70 euros yesterday – the deal, already criticized as too expensive, may appear in an even more unfavorable light. The management, the unionists said in a statement yesterday has with its decision «raised enormously important questions regarding the decision for the buyout, such as the price, the big rise in (National’s) capital and the back door which has opened that could change the bank’s nature and move the decision-making center abroad.» National Bank is still nominally considered a state-controlled bank, although the state’s stake is now very small. It does exert control through the stakes of pension fund and the present management has been government-appointed. The proposed capital rise would further dilute the state’s stake, probably to the point it would no longer be the controlling shareholder.