EU regulators approve overhaul of Greece's Alpha Bank

BRUSSELS, July 9 Wed Jul 9, 2014 6:39am EDT

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BRUSSELS, July 9 (Reuters) - European Union state aid regulators cleared on Wednesday the restructuring of Greece's Alpha Bank by downsizing its international operations, saying it would ensure the lender's viability.

Greek authorities and the Greek bank stability fund HFSF have repeatedly bailed out Alpha Bank since 2008, prompting the European Commission to open an investigation to see if the aid unfairly gave the bank an edge over rivals.

Alpha's overhaul included rationalising its operating spending and refraining from costly takeovers.

"Alpha Bank's restructuring will make a significant contribution to reinforcing the viability of the Greek banking sector, to the benefit of the Greek economy," European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

The EU competition watchdog also approved Alpha's takeover of Greek peer Emporiki Bank. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by John O'Donnell and Mark Potter)

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