ATHENS – The sale of a 20% percent stake in The National Bank of Greece (NBG) by the country’s privatization fund saw a huge response from investors eager to get their hands on a piece of the central bank.
Demand was covered more than six times on Nov. 14, the first day of a book-building process which ends later this week, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters about the interest.
During Greece’s 201o-18 economic and austerity crisis in which international lenders required the privatization of state enterprises in return for three bailouts of 326 billion euros ($354 billion) the country’s four biggest banks needed 50 billion euros ($54.29 billion) in state aid to keep afloat.
Since recovering with the bailouts ending in 2018 and the country’s economy coming back, the banks have returned to prosperity after selling off an avalanche of bad loans to collection companies hounding people for repayment.
The Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) has been working to sell pieces of state enterprises although the goal fell far short of what the lenders, including the European Central Bank, wanted to reach.
Now the HFSF is divesting its stakes with Eurobank the first to end the state’s participation in its share capital in October before Standard & Poor’s became the first among the top three ratings agencies to lift Greece to investment grade.
The HFSF just concluded the sale of a 9 percent stake in Alpha Bank to UniCredit before announcing the plans to sell shares in NBG, the country’s second-largest bank, using public and private offerings.
The value of the 20 percent stake is estimated at about 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion.) HFSH has a 40.4 percent stake in NBG and 27 percent in Piraeus Bank, the third-largest lender, the report said.
The HFSF had said it wants to get rid of all its holdings in Greek banks by the end of 2025 with the economy on a path to continue growing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic waning faster.
A source not named told Reuters that out of the 20 percent stake in NBG, 17 percent would be offered to funds and 3 percent and that the shares could be increased to 22 percent if there’s more demand.
JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS have been appointed as global coordinators of the sale, the news agency said.