Greece to begin selling bank stakes this autumn-sources
ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece will this autumn start selling stakes in its four largest banks, sector officials and bankers said on Monday, marking the latest milestone in the country’s recovery from the financial meltdown it suffered in previous decade.
State-controlled bank bailout fund HFSF will sell separately the stakes in National Bank of Greece (NBG), Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank and Eurobank it acquired in turn for injecting about 50 billion euros ($56.2 billion) to recapitalise the lenders during the country’s financial crisis.
HFSF’s 1.4% stake in Eurobank will be the first to be put up for sale, according to a banker with knowledge of the matter. The bank’s management has said it plans to buy back its shares in the second half of the year.
“Eurobank will submit a proposal to HFSF to buy back its shares by the end of August,” a second source involved in the process told Reuters.
HFSF also holds a 9% stake in Alpha, 27% in Piraeus Bank and 40.4% in National Bank of Greece (NBG).
“The second sale will probably involve a package of around 20% of National Bank of Greece,” the second source said, adding that no final decision has been taken yet.
Shares of Greek banks have gained about 68% so far this year, as investors priced in Greece regaining its investment grade status after 13 years.
The banks have cut their bad loan ratios to below 8% in 2022 from 45% in 2016. They have all reported strong profit in 2022, helped by higher interest rates, and hope to resume paying out dividends next year, for the first time since the Greek debt crisis broke out in 2010.
“(The sale of) Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank’s stake will follow later in the year or in 2024,” the second official told Reuters.
($1 = 0.8902 euros)
(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by David Holmes)