May 19, 2009 / 7:53 PM / 10 years ago

Cypriot Marfin shareholders oppose bank's move

NICOSIA, May 19 (Reuters) - Shareholders of Cyprus’ Marfin Popular Bank CPBC.CY opposed on Tuesday the bank’s plan to move its headquarters to Greece as part of a merger with its Greek unit.

Marfin Popular CPBC.CY has announced plans to merge with Greek subsidiary Marfin Egnatia EGNr.AT and move its headquarters to Greece. Cypriot authorities were dismayed at the news.

“If, as you say, we have been making a profit over the past two years, why must the headquarters move to Greece?” said one shareholder at the bank’s annual shareholders meeting.

Marfin Popular’s decision to move its base to Greece comes after media reports that Cyprus’ Central Bank informally blocked a Marfin affiliate, Marfin Investment Group (MIG) (MRFr.AT) from raising its stake in the bank.

Marfin Popular vice-chairman said the move of the bank’s base to Greece would make it easier for it to promote its expansion plans.

“We decided that the bank would have more flexibility to forward its expansion plans based in Greece rather than in Cyprus,” Andreas Vgenopoulos, vice-chairman of Marfin Popular Bank said.

He said Cyprus had to change some of its rigid business practices before it could be considered an international business centre.

Marfin Popular has operations in 11 countries, including Britain, Russia, Malta and Australia.

Reporting by Sarah Ktisti; Editing by Richard Chang

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