Exclusive: Greek banks face closures, bailout or not - sources
By John O'Donnell
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Some large Greek banks may have to be shut and taken over by stronger rivals as part of a restructuring of the sector that would follow any bailout of the country, European officials have told Reuters.
European leaders will gather on Sunday in a last-ditch attempt to salvage agreement with Greece after months of acrimonious negotiations that have taken the country to the brink of leaving the euro.
But regardless of whether or not fresh funds are now unlocked for the government, some Greek banks, damaged by political and economic havoc, may have to be closed and merged with stronger rivals, officials, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
One official said that Greece's four big banks - National Bank of Greece (NBGr.AT: Quote), Eurobank EURBr.AT, Piraeus (BOPr.AT: Quote) and Alpha Bank (ACBr.AT: Quote) - could be reduced to just two, a measure that would doubtless encounter fierce resistance in Athens.
A second person said that although mergers of banks were necessary, this could happen over the longer term.
"The Greek economy is in ruins. That means the banks need a restart," said the first person, adding that prompt action was necessary following any bailout between Athens and the euro zone. "Cyprus could be a role model."
"You have a tiny bit of time ... you would do restructuring straight away."
Greece's financial system has been at the heart of the current crisis, hemorrhaging deposits as relations between the radical left-wing government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and creditors worsened. Continued...