ECONOMY

Solid interest in NBG’s capital hike

Investor interest in National Bank of Greece’s share capital boost is strong, according to a senior source at the country’s largest lender. NBG is seeking 2.8 billion euros via a rights issue, convertible bond and the sale of a stake in its Turkish unit, Finansbank, in a bid to strengthen its capital position in view of Greece’s deteriorating economic conditions. The subscription period ends on Monday. Foreign investors, who control some 35 percent of the bank, have taken part in the share and bond sale despite uncertainties in the global economic environment, the source said. Foreign players are expected to contribute between 500 million and 700 million euros. Greek government pension funds and the Church of Greece, which own stakes in NBG, are also believed to be interested in taking part in the share sale. Investment firm Goldman Sachs said yesterday it has kept a neutral rating on shares in NBG, which added 1.39 percent to 8 euros yesterday after Wednesday’s jump of more than 6 percent. Turning toward the broader sector in Greece, Goldman Sachs said that Greek bank stocks may be hurt should European Central Bank liquidity dependence increase. «Top-down concerns regarding Greek sovereign debt remain the dominant concern for medium-term share price performance,» a group of analysts, including Heiner Luz, said. «Greek banks still heavily rely on the lender of last resort and continue to see restricted access to commercial funding sources.» Goldman Sachs said the current environment «still looks challenging, however, recent data showed slight improvements.»