ECONOMY

Last call for Emporiki

A rival bid to Credit Agricole’s offer for Greece’s Emporiki Bank has not emerged the day before a deadline for new bids expires, Greece’s finance minister said yesterday. «At this moment, there is one tender offer for Emporiki, by Credit Agricole,» Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis told reporters, adding that he planned to meet with the French group’s executives tomorrow. «The offer that has been submitted is being seriously considered but the government has not yet expressed its position,» the minister said. If no other bidder emerges today, Credit Agricole will have until July 31 to improve its bid. Alogoskoufis has said he wants Agricole to improve its offer for Emporiki. France’s largest retail bank is offering 23.50 euros a share for Emporiki, all in cash, valuing Greece’s fourth-largest lender by assets at 3.1 billion euros ($3.9 billion). Its tender offer has set a 40 percent minimum acceptance threshold. Emporiki’s adviser JP Morgan, which has estimated a fair value range of 23 to 27 euros per share for the bank, has said Agricole’s bid does not include a control premium. Rival contender Bank of Cyprus pulled out of the race last week. Emporiki is the top item of the government’s 1.6-billion-euro privatizations agenda this year, seeking proceeds to pay down public debt, which at 107.9 percent of GDP is one of the highest in the eurozone. Greece, which owns about 40 percent of Emporiki directly and via state pension funds, is being advised by Citigroup on the sale. (Reuters)