Brussels Pushes Greece to Shutter Banks - Report
The European Commission is pressing Greece to wind down or close some banks, possibly including its fifth-largest lender ATEbank, according to Brussels sources. "We are moving into a new phase with Greece, Portugal and Spain," Reuters reported one of the sources as saying. "Some banks are going to be squeezed. Some are going to be closed down...ATEbank will have to be closed or wound down over time", Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) wrote.
ATEbank, the Greek central bank and the Greek finance ministry declined to comment to Reuters. Greek banks hold nearly a 30% of the Bulgarian banking market, a 20% share of the bank loans and one-third of all deposits. Some of the biggest lenders in Bulgaria are managed by Italy's UniCredit, Greece's National Bank of Greece, Hungary's OTP and Austria's Raiffeisen.
Other Greek banks present in Bulgaria include EFG Eurobank, Piraeus, Emporiki and Alpha Bank. Experts have warned that Bulgaria, the European Union member boasting one of the the bloc's smallest budget deficit, risks seeing its banks sucked under by the fiscal sins of neighboring Greece.