Lifeline for Bulgaria Units of Greek Banks, UniCredit, Raiffeisen 'Under Threat'

Finance | October 27, 2011, Thursday // 17:24|  views

A woman looks on in front of the central office of UniCredit Bulbank in Sofia. UniCredit Bulbank is the biggest bank in Bulgaria. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Greek banks, UniCredit and Raiffeisen are expected to be among the major banks that will need to raise capital and resort to their units in Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria, to meet the EU required recapitalization ratio, experts have forecast.

Under the "three-pronged" deal to fix the eurozone's debt crisis, which was clinched after marathon talks in Brussels, European banks will be required to raise about 106bn euros in new capital by June 2012.

It is hoped that this would help shield them against losses resulting from any government defaults and protect larger economies - like Italy and Spain - from the market turmoil.

UniCredit Bulbank, part of the UniCredit Group, is the largest bank in the system with a market share of around 16% in banking system assets.

The five biggest banks in Bulgaria are UniCredit Bulbank; DSK Bank, a unit of OTP Bank Nyrt., Hungary's largest bank; United Bulgarian Bank, owned by the National Bank of Greece SA; Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria and Eurobank EFG Bulgaria.

Greek banks control about 28% of banks' total assets in Bulgaria.

Greek banks have been risk averse since the crisis set in, but local bankers have persistently voiced confidence that being part of the conservatively regulated Bulgarian banking system, they still represent an asset for the Greek owners.

Amid fears that the Bulgarian banks are more susceptible to possible shocks caused by Greek banks' funding, local bankers hope that these will go through a process of consolidation or conservatism without dramatic problems for the Bulgarian environment.

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Tags: Raiffeisen, Unicredit, Bulgarian, European, europe, Eastern, Eurozone, French, Austrian, Greek, banks, banking sector, recapitalization, Bulgaria, Romania, greece, EU


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