NBG to sell Romania, Serbia, Cyprus operations
Greece’s second-largest lender National Bank (NBG) will sell more assets in the Balkans, including its Romanian operations, to complete a restructuring plan agreed with European authorities, its chief executive said yesterday. Like other big Greek banks, NBG has been slimming down by divesting assets and foreign subsidiaries to focus on banking at home, with proceeds boosting capital ratios and liquidity. “We are very close to announcing the buyer for Banca Romaneasca,” CEO Leonidas Fragiadakis told Reuters in an interview. “The sale will be concluded in the next few months, it will be capital-accretive and beneficial to liquidity.” He said Credit Suisse was advising the group on the sale. The buyer for the wholly owned Romanian subsidiary, which has a network of about 110 branches, will also pay back a loan of 550 million euros that Banca Romaneasca borrowed from NBG, providing a further liquidity boost. Apart from Romaneasca, Fragiadakis said NBG would sell smaller operations in Serbia, Albania and Cyprus as part of commitments agreed with regulators. “More than 90 percent of our restructuring has been completed. These operations make up a very small part of the commitments in the plan,” he said, adding sales processes were under way. Steering the ship during a tough phase of deleveraging, Fragiadakis has overseen the sale of Turkish unit Finansbank, a cash cow for NBG, private equity unit NBGI, resort Astir Palace, Bulgarian unit UBB, its South Africa operations and last week its insurance unit. The divestments boosted NBG’s core equity tier-1 capital ratio by 750 basis points and the sale of the insurance unit by another 110 basis points to close to 18 percent. This provides NBG with a significant capital cushion ahead of another round of pan-Eu-
Attica NPLs. Attica Bank has completed the securitization and portfolio transfer of nonperforming loans adding up to 1.33 billion euros to the SPV (special purpose vehicle) company Artemis Securitization, which in turn has allocated the management of this portfolio to the Thea Artemis joint venture it has set up with the bank.