Marfin International Group (MIG) announced yesterday that it has acquired a 5.02 percent stake in Marfin Popular Bank (MPB), while MPB announced that it intends to sell its holding in MIG, signaling a reversal exchange of stakes. The announcement stresses that the decision to acquire 5.02 percent of MPB reflects the management’s expectations for the bank’s promising growth prospects in the wider Southeastern Europe region, which is in line with MIG’s target of a compound annualized return (internal rate of return) of 25 percent. MIG officials believe MPB is a fine investment and say MIG’s stake in it may rise up to 10 percent. According to analysts, MIG’s move is possibly the first in a broader initiative aimed at building up its hand in the banking sector, as well as working toward the group’s stated target of making MPB one of the largest banks in SE Europe. An announcement by MPB said that the bank intends to put up for sale its 6.45 percent stake in MIG, in January 2008, preferably to a strategic investor. The specific decision was reached on the basis of MPB’s strategy to concentrate on banking and other similar operations and to use its capital to fund its rapidly increasing organic growth. According to reports, MIG’s stake would be bought by its strategic partner Dubai Financial. The day after in Vivartia In the meantime, MIG-owned food group Vivartia is preparing for a placement by strategic or institutional investors. With regard to the suspension of trading of the company’s shares on Thursday, MIG officials believe that the development facilitates rather than harms the company, given that a new business plan is currently being prepared. Had trading of the share not been suspended, it is believed that owing to the share’s low diversification, there could be a high risk of excessive fluctuation and profiteering. In the wake of the resignation of Vivatria CEO Dimitris Daskalopoulos, MIG Deputy CEO Andreas Vgenopoulos said that the firm’s new business plan is being prepared by a Vivartia team headed by new CEO Spyros Theodoropoulos, who remains with the company. An announcement by Vivartia said that the entire management team is to remain with the company.