National Bank of Greece to cut 15 percent of workforce

ATHENS Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:05pm EST

ATHENS Feb 13 (Reuters) - Greece's biggest lender National Bank of Greece on Wednesday said it would cut up to 2,000 jobs, or about 15 percent of its workforce, to generate savings from its acquisition of smaller rival Eurobank .

The cuts will target employees that are close to retirement and will be carried out on a voluntary basis, the bank said. They will be completed by March and will only affect National Bank employees, said a bank executive who declined to be named.

National Bank offered in October to buy Eurobank to create the country's biggest lender, part of the consolidation to help the banking industry cope with the fallout from the country's debt crisis.

NBG is offering 58 new shares for every 100 shares of Eurobank, an offer the smaller bank has said is fair. The voluntary tender offer runs from Jan. 11 to Feb. 15.

NBG has said that Eurobank shareholders representing at least 43.6 percent of the bank's stock are in favour of the offer. The deal will create the biggest Greek banking group in terms of loans, deposits and branch networks.

Greece's banks are under pressure to merge after suffering steep losses from a sovereign debt restructuring last year, heavy deposit withdrawals and rising bad loans. They are short of cash and so have no option but to swap shares to do deals.