* Piraeus says certain investors to take up 10 pct of rights
* Alpha, Piraeus shareholders approve bond issues
(Adds quotes, Alpha shareholders meeting, details)
By Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos
ATHENS, Jan 31 Greek bank Piraeus is
confident it will be able to sell at least 10 percent of a
planned share offering to the market, its chairman said on
Thursday, ensuring the bank avoids falling into state hands.
Battered by the debt crisis and six years of recession, the
country's four big banks - National, Eurobank
, Alpha and Piraeus - are to be recapitalised
with 27.5 billion euros ($37 billion) of state aid but must
raise a small part from the market to avoid being nationalised.
Piraeus's capital need has been assessed by the central bank
at 7.3 billion euros, of which up to 2 billion will come from
contingent convertible bonds, or so-called CoCos, leaving about
5.3 billion to be raised via shares.
The country's second-largest lender by assets, after taking
over part of ATE bank, is the first of the country's four major
lenders to say it will have no problem meeting the required
target under their planned recapitalisation.
"We are certain, based on the indications we have, that we
will reach 10 percent," Piraeus chairman Michalis Sallas told a
shareholder meeting, which also approved a contingent
convertible bond issue of up to 2 billion euros.
The comment came days after rival Eurobank said terms
offered under the recapitalisation scheme were not attractive
enough and urged stronger incentives for private investors to
take part in share offerings.
The CoCo issues will be solely taken up by a state bank
support fund, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF),
which has been set up to recapitalise the sector and wind down
banks that authorities have deemed non-viable.
HFSF will subscribe to most of the capital to be raised
through rights issues but, to stay privately run, the four big
banks must raise at least 10 percent from private investors.
The banks must complete their share offerings by the end of
April, but the lenders are lobbying for more time and executives
at the HFSF support fund have also acknowledged the timeframe to
"If there was an extension (of the deadline for share
issues) by one to two months it would help banks," another
senior Piraeus executive told reporters, declining to be named.
"It will be a pity if there is no extension now that we see
interest by serious foreign institutional investors."
At its shareholder meeting, Piraeus also signalled growing
optimism for the country's banks since fears of a Greek
bankruptcy and exit from the euro receded.
Sallas said Greek banks would manage to regain capital
market access this year, a view also expressed by Eurobank's
deputy chief executive in comments to Reuters earlier this week.
"I believe that in the summer, banks will be able to return
to markets," Sallas said.
At a separate meeting, shareholders of rival Alpha Bank also
gave the green light for a contingent convertible bond issue of
up to 2 billion euros.
(Editing by Deepa Babington and Mike Nesbit)