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Brussels to Ethniki Bank: Speed up the sale of Insurance subsidiary

Responding to the request by the Ethniki (National) Bank's administration to extend the one-year deadline for the sale of Ethniki Insurance, the EU's Directorate-General for Competition is reportedly posed to refuse. The DG Comp is putting pressure on the bank to accelerate the procedures for the sale of the insurance firm.

However, sources say that there is no definitive rejection, but the negotiations on the Bank's proposal for a two-year extension are still in good shape.

According to press sources, a request sent a few weeks ago by the National Bank's administration asked DG Comp, following the failed takeover of National Insurance Company by Exin, to extend the sale of its subsidiary for the end of 2019, a request that is not being accepted.

DG Comp's negative attitude refutes the relative optimism that the sources of the bank spreaad, saying there was agreement with the European Union competition authorities by which the bank would buy time for the sale of National Insurance.

Thus, it will have to move much faster on the sale of its subsidiary, which clearly limits the negotiating capabilities and choices of the bank. Objections are also expressed in the attitude of the European authorities, which while pushing for completion of the sale at the same time reject potential buyers, such as Chinese companies that have shown strong interest.

It is obvious that the sale of Ethniki Asfalistiki can not take place by December 2018, as foreseen by the administration's commitment under the restructuring plan, but after the rejection of the request for extension to the end of 2019, National Bank of Greece will have to proceed with the relevant procedures at the beginning of the new year.