ECONOMY

Merger talk keeps popping up but NBG denies all

National Bank (NBG) denied for the third time in the last two weeks yesterday that it was moving ahead with a share capital increase, in merger talks with a peer or about to sell a stake in a key foreign operations. «National Bank… is informing the investment public that it is not considering the prospect of a share capital increase or the sale of a stake in its subsidiaries; also, that it is not in talks with other Greek credit institutions on the prospect of a merger,» the bank said in a statement. Press reports said National Bank’s management had considered the sale of a 30 percent stake in Turkish subsidiary Finansbank along with a 1.5-billion-euro share capital boost, which would give it the financial firepower to make an acquisition in the Greek banking sector. Calls by the government and the central bank for Greek lenders to rethink strategy and regroup to better cope with the debt crisis have fanned speculation of possible mergers and acquisitions. «NBG has a high capital adequacy and maintaining and improving it is a strategic priority,» the bank said, adding that it is constantly looking into ways to achieve this goal. Meanwhile, Greece’s second-largest lender, Eurobank EFG, refused to comment on press reports that it is in talks to hook up with peer HSBC in Poland. Eurobank, which is planning to expand its 328-branch network in Poland, is changing the legal status of its Polish subsidiary, paving the way for the entry of a local strategic partner, sources said yesterday.