Greece's Alpha Bank eyeing Citi's local operations

ATHENS Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:55am EDT

A woman makes her way past the logo of Alpha Bank in Athens March 26, 2014. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

A woman makes her way past the logo of Alpha Bank in Athens March 26, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Alpha Bank (ACBr.AT), Greece's fourth-largest lender, said on Friday it was looking into proposals to expand, including the possible acquisition of Citibank's (C.N) Greek operations.

The country's debt crisis has prompted foreign banks, including France's Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PA), to sell their local units to Greek banks in recent years.

"In the context of implementing its business plan and acting in the best interest of its shareholders, the bank periodically explores a wide range of options that serve the plan," Alpha said in response to press reports that it was close to clinching a deal to buy the local operations of Citibank.

"In any event, as is standard practice, the bank will proceed with any requisite announcements," Alpha said.

Greece's top four banks control about 90 percent of its banking market after a wave of consolidation and the winding-down of smaller banks that were deemed not viable.

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

Citibank officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Alpha acquired Emporiki Bank from Credit Agricole in 2012.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; editing by Jane Baird)

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