ECONOMY

French banks in Greece for long haul

French banks insist they have no intention of leaving Greece and abandoning their investment in local credit institutions. Both Emporiki Bank, which belongs to Credit Agricole, and Geniki Bank, majority-owned by Societe Generale, reject market speculation about their Paris-based parent companies moving out of the local market due to their less-than-successful presence in this country to date. Credit Agricole actually suggests that any such scenario must be the figment of someone’s imagination, as it has not even been two years since it completed the purchase of Emporiki’s majority stake. First-half figures for Emporiki were indeed negative, but this does not seem to worry the bank’s management or ownership, as this period is still considered to be a transitional one, according to the business plan submitted. Societe Generale aims to bring Geniki back to profit. This target is not far away at all, the French bank believes, although its achievment is somewhat overdue. Yet SocGen is not giving up, despite a proposal tabled last year by Greek entrepreneurs to take over the French bank’s stake in Geniki. Sources say that the offer had been too low, not to mention the French group’s intention to persist with its Greek challenge. It actually intends to increase its investment in Geniki and expand into more credit sectors.