Another Greek bank unit leaves Albania

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 8, 2018 10:01

Another Greek bank unit leaves Albania

Story Highlights

  • Tirana Bank is the third Greek unit to have changed hands in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and Greece’s severe recession hitting the banking sector there

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TIRANA, Aug. 8 – Another Greek bank unit operating in Albania has changed hands, becoming the third Greek subsidiary to be taken over in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and Greece’s recession which severely hit the banking sector there.

Tirana Bank, a unit of Piraeus Bank, Greece’s largest lender, says it has agreed to sell its Albania unit, to Albanian-owned Balfin Group and Macedonia’s Komercijalna Banka for €57.3 million.

Balfin Group is Albania’s largest company which is now diversifying its investment portfolio also in the banking sector after successful operations in the mining, construction, retail trade sectors.

Komercijalna Banka is the largest Macedonia’s largest lender, where London-based also held a minority stake for more than two decades until late 2017.

No details have been provided about the stake each investor will hold at Albania’s sixth largest bank.

The sale of the Albania unit is part of an EU-backed restructuring plan for Piraeus Bank and comes following a series of divestment in the Western Balkans by Greece’s troubled largest lender.

Operational in Albania for about two decades as a unit of the Piraeus Bank, Tirana Bank had seen its market share almost halve in the past decade. The country’s sixth largest bank held assets worth about 78 billion lek (€617 mln) at the end of 2017, with a market share of 5.33 percent, according to the Albanian Association of Banks. The bank had 39 outlets and 439 employees at the end of 2017.

Tirana Bank is the third Greek unit to have changed hands in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and Greece’s severe recession hitting the banking sector there.

Earlier this year, NBG Albania, the Albanian unit of the National Bank of Greece, was acquired by local American Bank of Investments, an American-Albanian bank that has been operating in Albania since 2016.

NBG Albania was the tenth largest bank in Albania and its sale was part of a restructuring plan agreed with European authorities that has forced Greece’s troubled second largest lender to sell assets in several South-East European countries including Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.

Subsidiaries of Greek banks operating in Albania saw their assets in Albania’s banking system drop to about 13.3 percent at the end of 2017, down from 25 percent in 2008 just before the onset of the global financial crisis when four subsidiaries of Greek banks operated in the country.

The situation is also a result of the acquisition of Emporiki Bank by France-based Credit Agricole in 2010. In 2015, the same unit was acquired by U.S.-based NCH Capital Inc, private equity and venture firm, and rebranded the American Bank of Investments.

Alpha Bank is now the sole remaining Greek unit operating in Albania. Its assets at the end of 2017 were at 5.25 percent, making it the sixth largest bank in the country.

Earlier this month, the Albania unit of France’s Societe Generale was taken over by Hungary’s OTP Bank as part of a deal the France-based lender concluded to sell its Bulgarian unit.

The country’s banking system is considered well-capitalized, liquid and profitable.

Yet, in its latest statement, the International Monetary Fund recommends that “ensuring that new market entrants have solid banking experience and meet fit and proper criteria to operate in the Albanian banking market will be critical.”

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 8, 2018 10:01