UPDATE 1-Greece's Alpha Bank prices share offer at 0.65 euros

Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:55pm EDT

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ATHENS, March 25 (Reuters) - Greek lender Alpha Bank said on Tuesday its 1.2 billion euro ($1.65 billion) equity offering aimed at strengthening its balance sheet and buying back preference shares owned by the country's government was priced at 0.65 euros per share.

A stress test of Greek lenders unveiled by the Bank of Greece this month found Alpha needs to plug a 262 million-euro capital shortfall. In addition, the Greek government owns preference shares worth 940 million euros.

The shares were priced at small discount to the closing price of 0.70 on Monday, and Alpha said would seek approval of the offering price in a shareholders meeting on March 28.

Greece's four biggest banks - National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Eurobank and Alpha were recapitalised last summer to the tune of 28 billion euros.

This month's health check was intended to establish whether they had enough capital to withstand rising bad loans, a further economic slump and other shocks, found that they needed to raise an extra 6.4 billion euros.

The four lenders combined they control about 90 percent of the country's banking market and are majority owned by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), a bank rescue vehicle funded with 50 billion euros from the country's bailout.

The HFSF, which recapitalised the banks last summer, has a remaining buffer of about 8 billion to 9 billion euros to address any additional needs. ($1 = 0.7258 Euros) (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Writing by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Louise Heavens)

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