ATHENS – The Greek-American consortium Calamos-Exin Group has entered into a long-term partnership with the National Bank of Greece after acquiring a 75 percent stake for Ethniki Hellenic General Insurance.
The deal was for 718 million euros, with an implied value of 958 million euros, subject to approval, officials said.
That came on June 29 after a meeting on June 2 looked at three bids, also including the giant Chinese Fosun and Gongbao groups but the Greek-American consortium offered the best bid for the insurance arm, the country’s biggest insurer with an 18 percent market share.
The bid also includes repayment of a 50-million-euro ($56.23 million) perpetual bond that NBG had issued for its insurance arm, media reports said earlier.
NBG will retain a 25% stake in Ethniki Insurance, which remains NBG’s exclusive bancassurance provider under a new 10-year partnership agreement for life, savings and non-life insurance products.
“The Ethniki Insurance deal reinforces our commitment to the Southern European financial services market as part of our Pan-European strategy. EXIN has the expertise to lead a renaissance for the industry across the region,” said John Koudounis Co-Founder of EXIN.
Fellow Co-Founder John Calamos added: “I have been looking for opportunities to invest in Greece for quite some time. We are delighted our search has culminated in such an excellent fit for our long-term strategy,” the Athens News Agency reported.
“We are pleased to solidify our partnership with NBG. We are excited at the opportunity to work with our Ethniki Insurance colleagues to further grow the excellent foundation our partners at NBG have so ably built. Marrying the timeless values of Ethniki Insurance to our technological expertise will help deliver an exceptional customer experience for years to come,” said Matt Fairfield, Co-Founder and CEO of EXIN.
Leonidas Fragkiadakis, NBG’s CEO said:”After 125 years of common history dating back to 1891, NBG divests 75% of its interest in Ethniki Insurance to deliver on its commitment to its shareholders and the European Authorities.
“At the same time, it entered into an exclusive bancassurance agreement to govern the distribution of the products of Ethniki Insurance via the NBG network. The decision to retain a 25% stake is in line with the spirit of partnership that will govern our relationship with EXIN going forward. I am pleased that our new partner, EXIN, has a long-term strategic interest in Greece and will continue to grow and develop Ethniki Insurance for years to come.”
Citing an unnamed senior banker, Reuters had reported earlier that U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wrote a letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that called for a transparent sale. “It is a strong letter,” he said.
“The Secretary is fully supportive of the Calamos-EXIN bid, saying it would be a good start towards improving U.S. investment flows to Greece,” said the banker.
Calamos is a Chicago money manager of Greek descent and Calamos’ founder, and said previously that he sees “compelling opportunities” for investments in many Greek sectors despite a long-running economic crisis, as TNH reported earlier.
Ethniki Insurance is the largest and oldest insurance company in Greece and had bought a 50 percent stake in AIG Greece in December 2016. On completion, EXIN’s portfolio companies will generate approximately one billion euros ($1.14 billion) in premiums annually from the Greek insurance market.
EXIN and NBG said they share a common ambition to develop Ethniki Insurance with a substantial upgrade of core systems and processes to better serve customers, especially broker and agent partners, as well as policyholders.
EXIN will contribute distribution, technical, underwriting and digital expertise to the partnership including EXIN’s Intelligent Data, a proprietary application and algorithm-based predictive behavior technology.