Greece's fourth-largest lender Piraeus Bank decided on Friday to raise 400 million euros in fresh capital and hired Barclays Capital to arrange the sale of its Egyptian unit, as it scrambles for cash to cope with a debt crisis at home.
Piraeus is the second Greek lender this week whose shareholders approved the sale of new, preferred shares to the government, under the terms of a 2008 law to protect banks from the global credit crisis.
Greek banks must raise capital and sell assets to soften the blow from a sovereign debt cut plan, under which private bondholders will accept a 50 per cent discount on the nominal value of their holdings of Greek government bonds.
The planned capital increase will raise Piraeus's Core Tier 1 capital ratio by 1 percentage point to 8.1 per cent, it said in a statement. The Greek central bank has told lenders to boost the ratio to 10 per cent next year.
In a separate move, Piraeus said it hired Barclays Capital to help sell Piraeus Bank Egypt. "The sale will begin immediately," the company said without giving more details.
Talks to sell the unit to Standard Charterted failed last month after the London-listed lender withdrew its interest, citing a worsening economic climate in crisis-hit Egypt.
"There is buying interest," a Piraeus Bank official who declined to be named told Reuters.
Piraeus Bank Egypt has assets of 1.4 billion euros ($1.83 billion), a loan book of 791 million euros and a network of 41 branches.