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Piraeus Bank gets shareholder approval for 1 bln euro equity offering

ATHENS, April 7 (Reuters) - Piraeus Bank, one of Greece’s four largest lenders, got the green light for a planned equity offering to raise about 1.0 billion euros ($1.19 billion) from shareholders at an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday.

The bank, 61.3% owned by Greece’s bank rescue fund, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), has said the offering of new shares will dilute the HFSF’s stake to a minority holding without any blocking power, meaning below 33%.

Chief Executive Christos Megalou told shareholders that the plan would help the bank to cut the ratio of bad loans within its overall debt portfolio.

“The reduction of our stock of non-performing exposures (NPEs) is the priority of the ‘Sunrise’ plan ... to get us to a single-digit NPE ratio,” Megalou said.

Piraeus Bank’s NPE ratio at the end of last year was 45%, not counting two securitisations that will be concluded later this year.

He said cleansing of the bank’s balance sheet of bad loans would “allow the sustainable funding of Greece’s economy”.

The bank said 99.3% of shareholders at the meeting voted in favour of the plan to issue new shares.

The equity offering will be a combined international placement with institutional investors via bookbuilding, and a domestic public offering that will take place simultaneously.

The issue price of the new shares will be determined in the bookbuilding and will be the same for both institutional and domestic investors.

$1 = 0.8408 euros Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Jan Harvey

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