GREECE: Alpha Bank shareholders clear bond issue to Credit Agricole

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Shareholders of Greece's Alpha Bank approved a convertible bond issue to be placed with Credit Agricole as part of a deal to take over the French lender's ailing Greek unit.

They also empowered management on Thursday to make other bond and share issues to help raise the bank's capital in line with the terms of the recent international bailout of Greece.

The convertible bond issue of up to 150 million euros ($198 million) will be privately placed with Credit Agricole under an agreement Alpha clinched in October to buy Emporiki Bank.

Credit Agricole took a 2 billion euro loss on the sale of loss-making Emporiki as it decided to pull out of economically troubled Greece.

Credit Agricole was the most exposed to Greece among French banks, which have spent the past year slashing investments there after an expansion spree during the boom times.

The shareholders also approved additional rights offerings and convertible bond issues to support the bank's recapitalisation next year. No amounts or terms were set.

Battered by rising loan impairments and losses from a sovereign debt swap in March this year, Greece's viable banks will have to be recapitalised to restore their capital adequacy core Tier 1 ratio to at least 9%.

Greece and its international lenders have earmarked 50 billion euros from the country's 130 billion euro bailout to recapitalise viable banks and wind down others.

Under the plan, banks will have to issue new shares to achieve a core Tier 1 ratio of at least 6% and contingent convertible bonds, or CoCos, to boost it to 9% by end April next year.

Alpha, Greece's No. 3 bank by assets, reported a loss of 711.8 million euros in the nine months to end September. It disclosed that its total recapitalisation need as set by the central bank is 4.6 billion euros.