Cyprus Mail

National Bank of Greece in talks to sell Cyprus unit

The National Bank of Greece is in talks with a group of investors who have filed an offer to acquire the Greek bank’s Cypriot subsidiary, sources said.

The investor group, comprised of the Nicosia-based Elements Capital Partners and the New York-based Atlas Merchant Capital, have filed a proposal to acquire the National Bank of Greece (Cyprus) Ltd for an unspecified amount, one of the source said.

The sale of the subsidiary – which posted last year a net profit of €9.7m and had a balance sheet of €951.3m a loan portfolio worth €704m – is in line with Greece’s obligations vis-à-vis its creditors to consolidate its banks as part of a previous bailout agreement.

The portfolio of National Bank of Greece’s subsidiary included last year €109.5m in past due and not impaired loans plus €496m in impaired loans, according to the bank’s 2015 report on its website.

The Cyprus Business Mail understands that two other Cypriot banks, Bank of Cyprus and Hellenic Bank, showed interest in acquiring the subsidiary but pulled out without filing a proposal.

Elements Capital Partners (ECP), founded six years ago, has also operations in Slovenia, where in April it acquired €75m in total debt from Sava d.d., the country’s largest financial holding company. With its Swiss unit DDM Holdings AG, it has become a specialist in the acquisition and management of distressed loan portfolios, according to ECP’s website.

A source with knowledge of the situation said that in the case of the acquisition of the Greek lender’s unit, ECP’s cooperation with Atlas Merchant may allow the acquisition of “limitless” non-performing loans from other banks, provided they are corporate loans exceeding €1m.

The Cyprus Business Mail also understands that National Bank of Greece will announce within the next few days that it has received a binding offer.

The conclusion of the sale agreement will be subject to the bank supervisory authority’s approval.

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