* Piraeus second Greek lender to successfully tap investors
* Plans to place 10 pct of share offering with Greek
* Offering at 10 pct discount to Wednesday's share price
(Adds analyst comment, bank confirmation, background)
By George Georgiopoulos
ATHENS, March 26 Piraeus Bank on
Wednesday became the second Greek lender to successfully
complete a share offering, signalling growing confidence that
the country's battered banking sector is leaving the worst of a
sovereign debt crisis behind.
Piraeus, the country's second-largest lender by assets,
tapped investors for 1.75 billion euros of new shares, without
pre-emption rights for existing shareholders, to bolster its
equity capital and pay back preferred shares held by the state.
The bank said the offering was priced at 1.70 euros a share,
at a 10 percent discount to Wednesday's share price after books
closed, confirming what an unnamed executive at the bank said
The offering was oversubscribed, with investors offering
over 3 billion euros, the executive said.
Greek banks are tapping markets before an expected wave of
fund raising by European peers in a bid to boost their capital
position ahead of the European Central Bank's health check by
November, when it becomes their supervisor.
Proceeds from Piraeus's share offering will plug a 425
million euro capital shortfall a stress test by the Greek
central bank revealed earlier this month and pay back 750
million euros of preferred shares owned by the state.
Greece's top four banks - Alpha, National,
Eurobank, Piraeus - and smaller peers Attica and
Panellinia Bank were found to need an extra 6.4 billion euros in
capital to make themselves strong enough to withstand further
loan losses and other potential shocks, the Greek central bank's
stress test found.
Peer Alpha Bank closed books on a 1.2 billion euro
equity offering on Tuesday, pricing it at 0.65 euros a share - a
7 percent discount to the share's closing price on Monday.
Piraeus said foreign investors offered a total of 5.5
billion euros for both offerings, suggesting Alpha Bank's
offering was similarly oversubscribed.
"It is a vote of confidence for the Greek banking sector as
both offerings were completed successfully, indicating pent-up
demand for Greek shares," said analyst Maria Kanellopoulou at
Athens-based Euroxx Securities.
Piraeus will seek approval for the offering price at a
shareholders meeting set for Friday and plans to place 10
percent of the new shares with Greek retail and institutional
investors at the same price.
A total of 1.03 billion new shares will be issued.
The group, with a market value of 10.2 billion euros and
majority-owned by Greece's bank rescue fund HFSF, had mandated
Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs as joint global
coordinators and bookrunners for the share offering. BNP Paribas
was co-lead manager with UBS and Mediobanca joint bookrunners.
Greek banks suffered huge losses from the country's
sovereign debt restructuring and bad loans because of the
ensuing deep recession. The top four were recapitalised with 28
billion last summer, with 25 billion injected by Greece's bank
rescue fund HFSF which became their majority shareholder.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos, editing by Louise Heavens)