NEWS

Germans sell stake in Eurobank

Deutsche Bank yesterday rocked Greece’s banking sector by announcing suddenly that it was selling off its 9.3 percent stake in EFG Eurobank, a private bank that is Greece’s third largest in terms of assets. Eurobank’s shares lost 7.27 percent to close at 13.78 euros. Deutsche Bank and Eurobank said in a joint statement that Europe’s largest bank would be selling its stake through accelerated bookbuilding. The 9.3 percent stake, which it had bought in 1998, equals 29.2 million shares. Market watchers said Deutsche Bank could gain 200 million euros from the sale. Eurobank Managing Director Nikos Nanopoulos said the Germans’ decision was in line with its broader strategy of selling off minority stakes in companies. He mentioned the Allianz insurance company and automobile giant Daimler-Chrysler as well as some of its own subsidiaries. Nanopoulos said the Germans’ departure would not harm the bank’s operations or profitability. On the contrary, he said, it would allow the share spread to broaden and strengthen the presence of foreign institutional investors and add weight to various stock indices. Deutsche Bank said in a letter to National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis that its decision to end its shareholding in Eurobank «does not mean that Deutsche Bank has lost confidence in Greece or in the Greek economy.» It said that it had decided to sell «because it does not make sense for us to have a minority interest in another bank and it is part of our stated strategy to dispose of the stakes we hold in other companies.» The letter was signed by Michael Cohrs, head of corporate finance at Deutsche Bank. It was dated November 11 and said that the bank had tried to contact Christodoulakis the previous day. «We believe that your government is doing well,» Cohrs said. «Indeed, Deutsche Bank intends to increase its investment banking resources directed at the Greek market,» he wrote. «Neither does this transaction impinge in any way on our view of EFG Eurobank. EFG Eurobank is, in our view, one of the most successful banks in Greece.»