Two of Greece's top lenders, Eurobank and Alpha Bank, are to announce a merger on Monday that will give a vital confidence boost to the debt-hit country's banking system, reports said on Saturday.
"The merger will create the largest private bank with a strong presence in Balkan markets," To Vima weekly reported on its website.
Financial website euro2day added that Qatar's state investment authority, which holds around five percent in Alpha Bank, would participate in the new venture with a stake of up to 16 percent.
The new entity would have assets of 150 billion euros ($216 billion), 80 billion in deposits and 2,000 branches in southeastern Europe.
Neither bank has commented but a press conference was reportedly to be held on Monday to announce the deal.
The Greek state, which is facing an unprecedented debt crisis that has affected market liquidity, has repeatedly encouraged Greek banks to pool their resources to help bolster the recession-hit economy.
Eurobank, which posted a net profit of 74 million euros in the first quarter of 2011 from 16 million euros a year earlier, in July had pledged to boost its capital after failing EU-wide bank stress tests.
Alpha Bank in February had rejected a friendly merger offer from National Bank, the country's leading lender.
The deteriorating state of Greek public finances has cast a pall on the country's banking sector which has significant exposure to state debt, which has hit rock bottom after successive credit rating downgrades.