ATHENS – Greek-American billionaire John Calamos’ winning offer to acquire Greece’s larger insurer, Ethniki, will run out on March 28 unless he can salvage the faltering deal that is coming apart after he sued his Dutch partner, EXIN.
The management of National Bank of Greece, which operates Ethniki Insurance, is mulling waiting out the nine-month period since the deal was signed last year to see whether the deal will stay intact, Kathimerini said.
NBG’s decision to see the nine-month period through, despite the rift within the winning bidder that puts the deal at the risk of collapsing, is seen as a tactical maneuver in the bank’s effort to disengage itself from the agreement without any legal implications that would lead to further delays beyond March 28, the paper said.
The suit was brought by Calamos Family Partners, including John Koudounis, CEO of Calamos’ asset management company in a Chicago suburb and seeks immediate repayment of more than $41 million in principal, plus interest, owed to them by EXIN under a series of loan agreements, the news agency Reuters said.
National Bank (NBG) had put its insurance subsidiary up for sale as part of a restructuring plan approved by the European Union to exit non-banking operations and focus on core banking but it had been lagging since being announced last year.
The takeover missed a Jan. 31 deadline to submit a list of stakeholders to the Bank of Greece amid reports a British fund could be brought in.
Despite the suit, EXIN insisted in a statement that it remains “fully committed to the rapid completion of the Ethniki Insurance transaction” within the deadlines. This means that the sale of Greece’s biggest insurance will come down to the last day of the period set by the deal, before NBG seeks a new bidder.
The Calamos-EXIN group won a bid more than seven months ago but didn’t naming who will be involved to finance the deal, according to Kathimerini. The British fund manages one billion euros ($1.25 billion) and reportedly wants to put 300 million euros ($373.35 million) as a partner.
EXIN claimed it sent a full set of documents with the additional data it was asked for and that the deadline for the process is March 31, not Jan. 31, the paper said, adding that it was told by unnamed sources all the information isn’t available and that an EXIN email didn’t list the bank’s monitoring department of private insurance companies as a formal recipient.
The same sources further confirmed EXIN never submitted an integrated proposal presenting its stakeholder lineup but didn’t indicate whether the deal was in any danger of collapsing.
EXIN-Calamos came out as the winning bidder last year for Ethniki, reportedly offering between 700-750 million euros ($787.25-$843.49 million) for a 75 percent stake in the insurance arm, the country’s biggest insurer with an 18 percent market share.