ATHENS Eurobank, Greece's No. 3 lender, said on Thursday it would sell 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) worth of new shares at the end of the year as part of a plan to return to private ownership after a bailout in 2012.
Eurobank (EURBr.AT) is one of four major Greek banks bailed out by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund after the country's debt crisis. March 2014 is the deadline to return it to the private sector, either fully or partially.
Eurobank, with assets of 82 billion euros, is the only one of the four fully controlled by Greece's bank bailout fund, the HFSF. It put in 5.84 billion euros of EU/IMF funds to boost Eurobank's capital and now owns about 95 percent.
The HFSF, which spent about 40 billion euros on bank bailouts, said it in a statement it "may consider allowing an anchor investor or a consortium of anchor investors to acquire a significant stake in Eurobank".
Barclays Bank, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan will be global coordinators of the transaction.
The HFSF wants to sell its majority stakes in the four major banks to private shareholders, and said in its 2014 draft budget last month that it expected to raise about 17 billion euros through these sales. Eurobank is the first to be sold.
In exchange for its aid, the HFSF requires the bailed-out lenders to merge and cut costs. Eurobank has already sold foreign units, taken over two smaller bailed-out lenders and announced plans to shed about a tenth of its staff.
Greek banks may need even more funds to plug new holes created by non-performing loans during a six-year recession.
Eurobank and the HFSF may adjust the amount to be raised after taking into account the capital needs being assessed by the Bank of Greece for Greece's banking sector, Eurobank said.
($1 = 0.7430 euros)
(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Writing by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Louise Ireland; Editing by Louise Ireland)