Greek banks post heavy losses on sovereign debt write-down

ATHENS (AFP) - Greece's top lender National Bank on Wednesday reported a net loss of 2.14 billion euros (S$3.47 billion) last year, while Alpha Bank said it sustained a net loss of 1.09 billion euros over the same period.

National Bank, which recently completed a merger with No. 2 lender Eurobank, said total assets stood at 104.8 billion euros, with deposits at 58.7 billion euros. New No. 2 Alpha Bank, which acquired smaller lender Emporiki Bank from France's Credit Agricole, had 76.5 billion euros in assets and 41.4 billion euros in deposits.

Greek banks last year sustained huge losses in a sovereign debt write-down worth more than 100 billion euros and a subsequent debt buy-back. Their recapitalisation is a condition for the continued release of EU-IMF rescue loans for Greece's crisis-hit economy.

A sum of 50 billion euros out of the total EU-IMF bailout fund of 240 billion euros has been earmarked for this purpose. At least 10 per cent of new capital must come from private investors to keep the banks from being effectively nationalised. The recapitalisation process is expected to be completed next month, though the banks are hoping to postpone this deadline.