The National Bank of Greece has been in discussions with Credit Agricole to buy the main share in the Greek Emporiki Bank. Sources of the largest commercial bank in the Mediterranean country said that the talks with the French Credit Agricole are in the early stages and it is still too soon to talk about a particular transaction. "The National Bank of Greece informs the public that it is considering a potential strategic union, but the talks are still in the early stages. The National Bank of Greece will immediately inform investors if a particular result in negotiations is reached," financiers specified.
The National Bank of Greece is the first financial institution to officially confirm the rumours circulating in recent weeks that Emporiki Bank has been seeking a new investor. According to unofficial information, two more banks - Eurobank EFG and Alpha Bank – have declared their interest in it. The intrigue gets even more exciting as Reuters has referred to its own sources in financial circles, who claimed that more than three banks have declared their interest in Emporiki Bank. According to those sources, a transaction has not yet been agreed, as there are "some more complex issues." The bank is seeking credible partners able to provide guarantees for the liabilities of banks, To Vima reported.
Over the years, Credit Agricole invested billions in the capitalization of the Greek bank. However, the French bank is trying to get rid of its Greek branch in order to prevent side effects if the country’s attempt to recover economically fails and it has to exit the euro area. In June, Emporiki bank announced it would transfer all of its non-Greek assets from the Balkan countries to the parent bank in France.
Late on Monday, Emporiki Bank confirmed the interest of other new investors without specifying the name of the National Bank of Greece. The official statement of the bank reads, "Emporiki Bank confirms that it has engaged in discussions with Greek banking organizations and the competent regulatory authorities. The preliminary discussions are not yet at a stage where a decision can be taken. The discussions take place in the context of the processes for the consolidation and the restructuring of the Greek financial sector."