Qatari investors take 4 pct stake in Alpha Bank

Alpha Bank, Greece’s third-largest lender based on market capitalization, announced yesterday it had sold 4 percent of its treasury stock to one of the most prominent families in Qatar in a move aimed at extending the international reach of the Greek lender. Greek banks have been investing abroad in recent years in a bid to tap rapidly growing markets as the local economy slows and credit expansion decelerates. Alpha Bank, with a market capitalization of some 7.9 billion euros, said it sold the 4 percent stake for 296 million euros to Paramount Services Holding Limited, «a company representing the business interests of the most prominent family in Qatar.» «The parties will identify investment opportunities in the greater eastern Mediterranean region, leveraging Alpha Bank’s proven track record in establishing premiere banking franchises in fast-growing countries,» the Greek bank said in a statement. Analysts described the move as a positive step for the bank that will boost its capital adequacy ratios while at the same time acquiring a strong shareholder. «It was a quick and successful move that could pave the way for its entry to the eastern Mediterranean, where Alpha has a limited presence,» said a broker who declined to be named. Alpha Bank is present in Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania, Ukraine and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).