UPDATE 1-National Bank of Greece moves ahead with share sale plan

Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:20am EDT

* Goldman and Morgan Stanley hired to manage sale -sources

* National Bank aims to raise up to 2.5 billion euros

* Confidence in Greece returning, 2013 budget targets met (Adds background, budget data)

By George Georgiopoulos

ATHENS, April 14 (Reuters) - National Bank of Greece is moving ahead with plans for a share offering to bolster its capital, two senior bankers familiar with the issue told Reuters on Monday.

Greece's biggest lender, which must plug a 2.18 billion euro ($3.03 billion) capital shortfall under the terms of the country's international bailout, has picked Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as global coordinators for the equity offering, the bankers said.

"A management board meeting has been called for tomorrow to discuss the plan, which will likely raise up to 2.5 billion euros," one of the bankers said.

The offering is unlikely to include pre-emption rights for existing shareholders, the banker added.

A senior National Bank executive had told Reuters at the weekend that the bank was considering an equity sale, sending its shares down 14 percent by 1008 GMT on Monday, the biggest faller on the FTSEurofirst 300 index.

National Bank delined to comment, but it had previously said it would not resort to an equity issue to plug the capital gap and would instead focus on cost cuts and the sale of non-core assets.

On Friday central bank chief George Provopoulos encouraged National Bank to follow the example of peers Piraeus Bank , Alpha Bank and Eurobank by seeking to tap capital markets.

Provopoulos's statement came after Greece's bailed-out government returned to bond markets last week after a four-year exile, raising 3 billion euros in a sign of growing investor confidence in the country.

Greece, which has been bailed out twice by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 2010, is likely to obtain further debt relief after its statistics agency ELSTAT confirmed on Monday that the government has met its 2013 budget targets. ($1 = 0.7201 Euros) (Writing by Harry Papachristou; Editing by David Goodman)

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