Greece's Alpha Bank close to deal to buy Emporiki-paper

ATHENS, July 31 Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:08am EDT

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ATHENS, July 31 (Reuters) - Greece's Alpha Bank is close to a deal to buy struggling rival Emporiki Bank, which France's Credit Agricole has been trying to sell, Greek financial daily Imerisia said on Tuesday, citing sources.

The deal will be signed in mid-September after the terms of a planned Greek bank recapitalisation are finalised, the paper said. The combined entity would have the "capital support" of Qatar's Paramount fund, it added, without specifying what form that backing would take.

Credit Agricole has been scrambling to scale back its 4.6 billion euro exposure to Emporiki after concern that a Greek exit from the euro zone would prompt massive writedowns and force a capital increase.

Emporiki has previously confirmed it is in "preliminary discussions" with Greek lenders and regulatory authorities.

Greece's biggest lender, National Bank has also said it was in talks with the French bank over Emporiki. (Reporting by Tatiana Fragou, Writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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