ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s fourth-largest lender Eurobank EFGr.AT must follow an independent course, its new chief executive said on Friday, casting further doubt on whether a suspended merger with peer National Bank (NBGr.AT) would go ahead.
In early April Greece’s international creditors - the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund - blocked Eurobank’s planned merger with larger rival NBG on concerns the joint entity would become too big.
“Our aim is for Eurobank to take part autonomously in the strategic restructuring of the banking system and return to the private sector as soon as possible,” CEO Christos Megalou said in a letter to staff a day after his appointment.
Megalou, a former Credit Suisse investment banker, was appointed to the job on Thursday by Greece’s bank rescue vehicle, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), which owns more than 98 percent of Eurobank after recapitalising it.
“The bank’s autonomous course is a must, therefore let’s leave behind any worries related to the pending merger,” Megalou said, echoing comments by the rescue fund’s CEO at the bank’s annual shareholders meeting a day earlier.
On Thursday the head of the HFSF fund said Eurobank would continue to operate as one of the four pillars of the country’s banking system, remaining administratively independent.
Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Chris Reese