Greece’s bank bailout fund is gearing up to initiate the sale of a 20% stake in National Bank (NBG), the country’s second-largest lender, in the near future, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter who spoke with Reuters on Thursday.
During the past decade-long economic crisis, Greece’s largest banks received a lifeline in the form of approximately 50 billion euros ($53 billion) from the state-controlled Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) in exchange for shares.
With these banks on the path to recovery, the HFSF has made the decision to divest these shares.
In the previous month, the HFSF successfully sold a 1.4% stake in Eurobank back to the bank itself and issued an invitation for investors to submit bids for a 9.4% stake in Alpha Bank, a target also sought by UniCredit.
At present, the HFSF holds a 40.4% stake in NBG, which boasts a market value of 4.9 billion euros, and a 27% stake in Piraeus Bank.
One of the sources emphasized that the ongoing sale process for Alpha Bank’s stake will not impede the forthcoming sale of National Bank’s shares, which is planned to occur in the upcoming weeks.
The second source noted that there is considerable interest from international investors regarding the NBG stake.
Greece’s economy has made significant strides in attracting investments in recent years, aided by its recovery following the conclusion of three international bailouts in 2018. In a positive sign of this progress, S&P Global recently upgraded the country’s credit rating to investment grade.
Greek banks are anticipating robust profits for the current year and are hopeful of distributing dividends in 2024, marking the first time since 2010 when the nation grappled with its debt crisis.