Greece hires Rothschild, Goldman for Proton, TT bank sell-off
ATHENS, June 28 (Reuters) – Greece’s bank rescue fund has hired Rothschild and Goldman Sachs as advisers on the sale of lenders Proton and Hellenic Postbank (TT), which are most likely to be bought by bigger Greek banks, officials told Reuters on Friday.
TT and Proton, victims of Greece’s economic crisis, were split into “good” and “bad” parts and are fully owned by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), a capital backstop with 50 billion euros ($65 billion) of bailout money.
Greece agreed with its international lenders – the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank – to sell the two banks by mid-July in order to get more bailout funds.
“Goldman is the sell-side adviser on Hellenic Postbank, Rothschild on Proton,” said one of the officials. The two were most likely to be bought by bigger Greek banks – Alpha , National or Eurobank, he said.
A senior Alpha Bank executive told Reuters on Friday Alpha would look into buying TT. “Yes, we are interested in Postbank,” he said.
Piraeus Bank has said it will not make any more acquistions in the near future after taking over Societe Generale’s and Millenium BCP’s Greek units and the local operations of three Cypriot banks.
“Eurobank is one of the possible buyers, a lot will depend on what the other banks do. The advisers will approach all of them,” a second banker said.
Authorities wound down TT in January after efforts to sell it failed. They stripped out bad loans from its portfolio and transferred less risky assets and deposits to a new entity called New Hellenic Postbank. The bad loans are being sold.
The HFSF pumped 4 billion euros into the bank to cover its funding gap – the difference between assets and liabilities – and a further 500 million to recapitalise it.
Like other Greek lenders, TT was hit by writedowns on Greek bonds and loan impairments as the country endures its sixth year of deep recession.
Eurobank, Alpha and National had expressed interest in the old TT but withdrew in January, leading authorities to wind it down.
The healthy TT has assets of 13.7 billion euros, deposits of 10.7 billion and a network of about 200 branches. Proton is a much smaller bank with deposits of one billion euros and 1.3 billion in assets.