Greece's Alpha Bank in talks to buy Citi's local retail ops-paper

ATHENS Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:41am EST

ATHENS Feb 11 (Reuters) - Greece's Alpha Bank is in talks to acquire part of Citibank's local retail banking operations, financial daily Imerisia reported on Tuesday.

Alpha Bank, Greece's fourth-largest lender by assets, is majority owned by bank rescue fund HFSF.

Citibank, which started shipping and corporate lending operations in Greece in 1964 and expanded into retail banking in the 1980s, runs a network of 21 branches across the country.

The two banks are looking into a plan under which Alpha would acquire Citibank's retail arm and its wealth services, the paper said, without citing sources or providing any figures on how much Alpha would pay for the deal.

Alpha declined comment. "It is our standard policy to not comment on press reports," an Alpha Bank senior official told Reuters, declining to be named.

The Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) would not comment. Citibank was not immediately available for comment.

The country's debt crisis prompted foreign banks, including France's Credit Agricole and Societe Generale , to sell their operations in Greece to local peers in recent years.

Alpha acquired Emporiki Bank from Credit Agricole in 2012.

Greece's top four banks control about 90 percent of the country's banking market after a wave of consolidation and the winding-down of smaller banks that were deemed non-viable.