Greece's NBG likely to sell its insurance unit this year -CEO

SOFIA, Jan 4 (Reuters) - National Bank of Greece (NBG) expects to sell its subsidiary National Insurance this year and plans other sales as part of its restructuring, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Last month Greece’s second largest lender hired Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as advisers on the sale of the insurance unit, banking sources close to the deal said.

“It has been public that from a business point of view we would have liked to keep the insurance company,” NBG’s Chief Executive Leonidas Fragkiadakis told Reuters.

“However, it’s part of our restructuring and we will be focused on performing on our commitments. There is a process going on and we are at its early stages,” he said.

When asked when a deal could be reached, he said he expected a sale within the year, declining to elaborate further.

NBG has agreed to sell its Bulgarian unit, United Bulgarian Bank, to Belgian bank KBC Group in a 610 million euro ($636.72 million) deal last week. It sold its Turkish unit Finansbank to Qatar National Bank for 2.7 billion euros in June.

Fragkiadakis said the Greek lender, with units in Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Romania and Cyprus, plans further divestment of units abroad as part of the bank’s restructuring and will bet on the domestic market to return to profitability.

“I cannot comment on which countries, but there is still future on divestment plans,” he said.

The CEO said the bank, which turned profitable in the third quarter, was on track to meet bad loan reduction targets set by the Bank of Greece.

“Up to now our performance has shown that we are on track. I do not want to be overextending, but I am confident that with a smooth economic environment in Greece, we will meet the targets,” he said.

$1 = 0.9580 euros Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova, editing by Louise Heavens