Greece's National Bank completes Eurobank buyout swap

Greek lender National Bank (NBG) on Monday said it had completed a buyout offer for rival Eurobank to create "the country's largest bank group".

Over 64,000 Eurobank shareholders had agreed to swap their shares, enabling NBG to garner about 84 percent of the smaller bank's stock, NBG said.

"National Bank and Eurobank are uniting their forces to create the country's largest bank group which will be able to successfully meet the challenges to Greece's monetary and credit system," NBG's chief operating officer Alexandros Tourkolias said in a statement.

NBG had offered 58 new shares for 100 shares of Eurobank.

The new National Bank group will have assets of over 170 billion euros and serve 18 million customers daily.

The Greek capital market commission had approved the merger on January 10 and the new group's shares are expected to begin trading on February 27, NBG said.

Eurobank in December reported a net loss of 1.095 billion euros ($1.48 billion) over the first nine months of 2012, after writing off six billion euros for its participation in the Greek sovereign bailout.

NBG had posted a net loss of 2.45 billion euros over the same period. Last week it announced plans to offer 2,000 staff an early retirement package.

Under the country's EU-IMF rescue agreement, Greek banks are to receive 50 billion euros to restore their capital after a sovereign debt write-down last spring and a subsequent debt buy-back.

The Greek banking sector had been urged for years to consolidate to bolster its defences and help liquidity, but several attempts to do so had failed.

But events accelerated last year when number two Greek lender Alpha Bank acquired the smaller Emporiki from France's Credit Agricole and fourth-largest Piraeus Bank took over Geniki Bank from France's Societe Generale.

Piraeus, which also absorbed part of ailing state lender ATEBank, is now in talks for the local branches of Portugal-based Millennium.

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