National Bank of Greece receives Chinese bid for insurance arm

ATHENS (Reuters) - National Bank of Greece (NBG) NBGr.AT has received one binding offer from Chinese group Gongbao for a majority stake in its insurance subsidiary, the lender said on Friday.

Greece’s second-largest lender by assets had put its National Insurance business up for sale as part of an EU-approved restructuring plan to focus on core banking operations.

A deal to sell the insurance business to U.S. and Dutch investors fell through in March.

U.S. fund manager Calamos Investments and EXIN Partners had agreed to acquire 75 percent of NBG’s insurance arm for 718 million euros ($845 million), but the deal turned sour after a legal row between the two buyers.

“The main objective of National Bank is for the sale procedure to be in full compliance with the terms of the EU restructuring plan,” NBG said in a statement.

The bank did not provide further details on the price offered by Shanghai-based investment company Gongbao.

Given the significant role of National Insurance in the country’s financial system, NBG said it would look at all “optimal solutions”, including an international tender to divest the business.

China has been investing in Greece in recent years. Its biggest shipping company, COSCO Shipping, bought a majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority OLPr.AT under a plan to turn Greece into a transhipment hub for rapidly growing trade between Asia and Europe.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by David Goodman