Greece's Alpha Bank invites bids for Hilton Athens owner: source

(Reuters) - Greece's Alpha Bank SA ACBr.AT has launched a process to sell Athens-listed Ionian Hotel Enterprises IHEr.AT, owner of the five-star Hilton Athens, a source familiar with the matter said.

A man withdraws money at an Alpha Bank branch ATM in central Athens, Greece, July 19, 2015. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Alpha Bank, which holds 97.3 percent of IHE, wants to receive expressions of interest by a deadline of March 11. Citi is advising Alpha Bank on the sale, the source said.

Alpha Bank was not immediately available for comment

The Greek bank is aiming to further strengthen its capital base with the share sale, which is valued at about 106 million euros based on its last closing price of 8.13 euros.

Greek banks that have been recently recapitalized with the euro zone’s help have agreed to divest non-core banking activities and sell their participation in overseas assets.

Citi’s head of Greece and Cyprus investment banking, Theodoros Giatrakos, is leading negotiations with interested parties, which have been given the option of bidding alone or teaming up in an investment consortium.

Hilton Athens was one of the venues that hosted recent negotiations between international creditors and the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in 2015.

Located in the capital’s commercial district, Hilton Athens has 506 rooms, some of which offer views of the Acropolis, and three swimming pools.

A flurry of hotel deals recently took place, with AccorHotels ACCP.PA sealing a deal in December to buy FRHI Holdings Ltd, the owner of luxury hotels including London's Savoy and New York's Plaza, in a cash-and-share deal worth $2.9 billion.

In November Marriott International MAR.O agreed to Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide HOT.N for $12.2 billion to create the world's largest hotel chain with top brands including Sheraton, Ritz Carlton and the Autograph Collection.

Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia in London; Additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler