Consultations on the possibility of Hellenic Bank acquiring Greek subsidiary Piraeus were at an advanced stage, the Cyprus News Agency said on Friday.
Citing unidentified sources, CNA said due diligence is being carried out and was at an advanced stage
The sources struck a note of caution however, adding that this did not necessarily mean a deal was close.
The report said the process if being closely monitored by EU competition authorities, CNA said, while international lenders were also informed.
On Thursday, the Cyprus Business Mail reported that there was interest in buying the subsidiaries of the Greek banks in Cyprus.
The report said it was likely that Bank of Cyprus, which has more than €5bln in outstanding emergency liquidity assistance to repay the ECB, would seek to buy the operations of Eurobank which has excess in liquidity and a healthy corporate customer base.
On the other hand, Hellenic Bank, which has excess liquidity and wants to increase its market share, was likely to be interested in the other three – Piraeus, National Bank of Greece, and Alpha, the Business Mail said.
Hellenic Bank said on Thursday it had nothing to report on the matter.
“Were there to be a material development to report in this regard, we will communicate it in the appropriate manner as prescribed by the supervisory authorities,” Hellenic said. “Given broader developments in the region, any speculation risks unnecessary upheaval to the banking system and investors in general”.
As part of its €10 billion bailout in March 2013, Cypriot lenders had to sell their Greek operations in a bid to ensure the island’s banking crisis — similar to the current one in Greece — did not spill over.
They were eventually sold to Piraeus bank for around €5oomln, a price that many thought was too low.