Postal bank sale through open tender

The government is accelerating its privatization program with the sale of a substantial stake in a state-controlled bank. The Economy and Finance Ministry announced yesterday it will proceed with an international tender for the sale of a 35 percent stake in the Postal Savings Bank. The winning bidder will also undertake the bank’s management. A second international tender, for a 20 percent stake in Athens water company EYDAP, will be published by the end of the week, ministry sources said yesterday. The tender for the Postal Savings Bank was decided after talks with the engineers’ pension fund (TSMEDE), the principal shareholder in Attica Bank, collapsed. «After several months of discussions with TSMEDE and the Technical Chamber of Greece for the sale of a 35 percent stake in Postal Savings Bank and after the last deadline set passed, it was found that there was an inability (on the part of TSMEDE) to present an offer to the Greek State,» a ministry statement released yesterday said. «The process… aimed at the acquisition of a strategic holding in Postal Savings Bank by TSMEDE and the subsequent merger with Bank of Attica, in order to create a strong bank… After today’s developments, the only choice the State has in order to partly privatize the Postal Savings Bank is an international, open tender procedure. The terms and details will be announced in the coming days.» Domestic banks, attracted by the bank’s 9-billion-euro pool of deposits and a national network of 600 outlets that makes use of post offices in addition to its own branches, have expressed their preference for the acquisition of a majority stake in Postal Savings Bank, which, additionally, holds a considerable mortgage portfolio. The bank’s employees oppose the sale and have occupied the administration offices over the past several days. The sale of the EYDAP stake will leave the State with a 51 percent stake in the company and, at current prices, should bring in 130 million euros. France’s Veolia Environnement and the Suez group have expressed interest.