* Bookbuilding to start May 6, pricing on May 9
* Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley global coordinators
By George Georgiopoulos
ATHENS, May 2 Greece's largest lender, National
Bank (NBG), will launch the bookbuilding process for
its 2.5 billion euro ($3.5 billion) equity offering on May 6 and
announce the pricing of the new shares on May 9, an NBG official
told Reuters on Friday.
NBG will be the fourth Greek lender to tap international
markets to plug a capital hole, seizing a window of opportunity
to raise funds as foreign investors warm to the debt-laden
country's recovery prospects.
The bank has picked Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley
as global coordinators for the share issue, which will be
offered to foreign institutional investors.
Peers Alpha Bank, Piraeus and Eurobank
tapped international markets and raised 5.81 billion
euros between them in the past two months.
"There will be no public offering in Greece, the pricing of
the shares will be announced on May 9 before the scheduled
shareholders meeting on May 10," the official said, declining to
NBG, with a current market value of 6.71 billion euros, is
84 percent owned by Greece's bank bailout fund, the Hellenic
Financial Stability Fund (HFSF). It has already been given the
go-ahead for the fundraising by its majority shareholder.
The bank needs to plug a 2.18 billion euro capital hole, a
central bank stress test revealed in March.
NBG, with businesses in the Balkans and Turkey, had resolved
not to resort to a cash call to fill the gap but focus instead
on selling non-core assets. It changed tack after pressure by
the central bank to follow the example of its peers.
NBG's equity offering will not include pre-emption rights
for existing shareholders, including the HFSF, as was the case
with the share offerings by its peers.
The shareholder meeting on May 10 will give formal approval
for the offering. Proceeds will also help NBG pay back 1.35
billion euros worth of preferred shares held by the Greek state.
Last month the bank raised 750 million euros after placing a
five-year senior bond with international investors. NBG managed
to borrow funds at 4.5 percent, a lower yield than the Greek
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Mark Potter)