Piraeus Bank obtains shareholder approval for € 1 billion share offering

ATHENS, April 7 (Reuters) – Piraeus Bank, one of Greece’s four largest lenders, has been given the green light for a share offering slated to raise around € 1.0 billion (€ 1.19 billion dollars) to shareholders at a special meeting on Wednesday.

The bank, 61.3% owned by Greece’s bank bailout fund, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), said the offering of new shares would dilute the HFSF stake to a minority stake without any blocking power, or below 33%.

Managing Director Christos Megalou told shareholders the plan would help the bank reduce the bad debt ratio within its overall debt portfolio.

“Reducing our stock of non-performing exposures (NPEs) is the priority of the ‘Sunrise’ plan … to bring us to a single-digit NPE ratio,” said Megalou.

Piraeus Bank’s NPE ratio at the end of last year was 45%, not including the two securitizations that will be completed later this year.

He said cleaning up the bank’s bad debt balance sheet “would provide sustainable financing for the Greek economy.”

The bank said 99.3% of shareholders at the meeting voted in favor of the plan to issue new shares.

The share offering will be an international placement combined with institutional investors via book building and a national public offering that will take place simultaneously.

The issue price of the new shares will be determined in the bookbuilding and will be the same for institutional and national investors.

$ 1 = 0.8408 euros Report by George Georgiopoulos; Edited by Jan Harvey

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