Gov’t puts merger talk to rest

Shares in state-controlled lenders ATEbank and Hellenic Postbank (TT) plummeted yesterday after the government denied press reports suggesting there were plans to merge the two institutions. The reports, published last week, said the recently elected Socialist government will merge the two lenders with the Deposits and Loans Fund as part of plans to create a «state hyperbank.» Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis told reporters «there is no possibility of a merger.» Shares in ATEbank fell 14.83 percent to 2.01 euros after gaining 18.5 percent on Monday. TT retreated 8.30 percent to 5.30 euros after Monday’s 10.3 percent jump. The broader market lost 0.81 percent. The Greek state has direct stakes of 77 percent in ATEbank and 34 percent in Hellenic Postbank, according to Athens bourse data. Meanwhile, ATEbank said yesterday it has not yet approved a new business plan for the next two years, adding that it will finalize and announce midterm business goals after evaluating developments abroad.