Eurobank eyes Hellenic prize

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Greece’s Eurobank is reportedly edging towards a takeover of Hellenic Bank as it prepares to increase its stake in the island’s second-largest lender past 30%.

Once it reaches the 30% benchmark, according to the law on acquisitions, Eurobank must make a public offer to take over Hellenic.

Market analysts expect the move after Eurobank recently solidified its position as Hellenic Bank’s major shareholder, pushing its holding to 29.2% in three moves.

Its latest move saw Eurobank acquiring another 3.2%, essentially buying out Senvest Management LLC.

With the initial deal to buy 13.41% of Wargaming’s 20.61% stake for €70 mln last year, Eurobank will command 29.2% of Hellenic’s capital.

News site Stockwatch quoted a source close to Eurobank saying that any new steps will be taken at the right time, hinting at an expansion of the bank’s influence.

On Monday, Eurobank’s Acting CEO, Stavros Ioannou, said the bank would be moving in three dynamic markets, Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria.

Ioannou noted that Eurobank had already established a systemic presence in Greece, Cyprus, and Bulgaria, clearly referring to the prospect of growth in the three countries.

Eurobank’s acting CEO was commenting on the bank’s withdrawal from Serbia.

As announced, Eurobank has entered into a binding agreement to sell its subsidiary in Serbia, Eurobank Direktna, of which it owns 70%.

Ioannou said the withdrawal from Serbia is a continuation of the bank’s strategy, with the funds from the sale being channelled into the development of operations in markets on which the group has chosen to expand.

Eurobank, the third largest banking institution, joined Hellenic’s shareholders in June 2021, when they bought the 12.6% share from fund managers Third Point Hellenic Recovery Fund.

They then made a deal with Wargaming for their 13.4% share of the bank’s capital at the end of November.

Eurobank became Hellenic Bank’s major shareholder after acquiring another 3.2%, essentially buying out Senvest Management LLC earlier this year for €16.74 mln.

The group will announce its 2022 annual financial results on Thursday.

According to financial sources, the bank is expected to post record profits.

With international activities covering one-third of its total revenues, Eurobank expects its 2022 report will record an annual increase in loans before provisions by 11% to €10.6 bln and deposits by 9% to €17.7 bln.

Operating profit before provisions is expected to increase more than 20% annually.