* Alpha to buy Citi's Greek retail ops for 2 mln euros
* Part of consolidation trend in industry
* Citi says wants to focus on corporate clients
By George Georgiopoulos
ATHENS, June 13 Alpha Bank, Greece's
fourth-biggest lender by assets, said on Friday it had agreed to
buy Citibank's loss-making retail operations in Greece for
2 million euros ($2.72 million), the latest deal in the sector's
Greece's debt crisis has hammered its banking industry,
prompting foreign players, including Credit Agricole,
Societe Generale and Portugal's Millennium bcp
, to sell local units to Greek lenders in recent years.
Hit by a sovereign debt restructuring and rising loan
impairments during a deep six-year economic slump, the industry
has consolidated down to four big players after a wave of
acquisitions and the winding down of non-viable banks.
The fortunes of National, Piraeus,
Eurobank, and Alpha, which now control more than 90
percent of the banking market, have begun to improve after two
recapitalisations and regained capital market access.
On Friday Eurobank said it had hired five investment banks
to arrange a possible bond sale, becoming the fourth Greek
lender to tap international investors with a senior unsecured
Alpha's statement confirmed what banking sources told
Reuters on Thursday about a deal for Citi's local retail
The Greek bank said the acquisition would contribute to its
pre-provision income from the first year and improve liquidity
The deal involves Citi's wealth management unit with 2.1
billion euros of client assets, including deposits of about 1
billion euros, credit card loan balances of 400 million euros
and 20 retail branches.
Citibank, which started shipping and corporate lending
operations in Greece in 1964 and expanded into retail banking in
the 1980s, said the sale was part of its strategy to divest
non-core operations and focus on corporate and shipping clients.
The sale, which is subject to regulatory approval, is
expected to close in the third quarter of 2014. A total of about
730 Citi employees will be transferred to Alpha Bank.
(Editing by Pravin Char)