Greek banking investments in Serbia

There are several Greek banks operating in Serbia nowadays, that came during the mid-90’s. The prospects of the finace sector in Serbia are deemed to be excellent for the future. The geographical placement of the country in the middle of the Balkans and the low penetration of financial products as far as the Serbian consumers are concerned; has driven the Greek banks into creating their regional bases in that state. It should also be noted that the growth rates of Serbia are high in comparison to the European market and that also is another reason for banks to invest readily in the still growing market.

In the recent 5th Banking Forum, held by the Economist in Athens, interesting notes were shared in relation to the South Eastern European expanding banking sector. For instance in Serbia the total monetary deposits of the banking sector is 45% whilst in Greece it now exceeds 155%. Furthermore the GDP growth for Serbia was at 6.8% in 2005 and in Greece 3.8%. The estimations were that there are strong incetives for the Greek corporations to continue investing in Serbia.

Greek banks in Serbia:

1) The National Bank of Greece (NBG): It currently controls 8% of deposits in Serbia and 6% of loans and has a total network of 210 branches with soem 800 million Euro of assets. The above include mostly the newly acquired Vojvodanska bank that was bought by NBG in July 2006 for 490 million Euro.

2) The Alpha Bank: It operates 92 branches and employs 1,400 personnel. It has a 6.2% share in the market. Its presence in Serbia is mostly due to its acquisition of Jubanka ad, in August 2004 (First buy) and August 2005 (Final offer), for a total sum of 210 million Euro.
3) The Eurobank: Its presence in Serbia is through its subsidiary EFG Eurobank ad Beograd that has a network of 27 branches and 520 employees. Also Eurobank has bought the Nacionalna Stedionica-Banka (NSB) that operates 70 branches throughout the country and employs 900 personnel. This particular Serbian bank was bought by Eurobank for the sum of 95 million Euro in March 2006.

Moreover Eurobank owns the real estate company, EFG Properties.

4) The Bank of Piraeus: This bank is active in Serbia through the subsidiary Piraeus Atlas Bank with 11 branches in three cities. The Atlas Bank was of Serbian ownership until November 2005 until Piraeus bought it for 37 million Euro.

5) ATE Bank: This bank recently (Sept. 2006) acquired 20% of the Serbian state bank AIK, for 102 million Euro. The aims of the bank is to expand in the near future and perhaps make an offer for the rest of the AIK Bank.
 

6) Laiki Bank: This Greek-Cypriot bank operates in Serbia through Centrobank which it controls by 76%, when it payed 50 million Euro in order to acquire that percentage in November 2005. Laiki bank has recently merged with the Marfin and the Egnatia banks in Greece. In addition the Dubai Financial Group owns a great percentage in this nelwy found financial conglomerate that includes amongst other a financial institution in Esthonia and real estate corporations in Greece and Cyprus. According to numerous sources the Laiki-Marfin- Egnatia Bank will move further into acquiring more assets in Serbia within 2007.
On overall the Greek banks have invested around 1.1 billion Euro in the Serbian banking sector and already have a 12% share in the domestic market. Interested readers should expect more investments pouring into Serbia from Greek banks within the coming months, as well as, in stock exchange brokers and leasing institutions.

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