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Lebanese interest in Piraeus Cyprus

The Cyprus subsidiary of Greece’s Piraeus Bank could be sold in the coming days or even hours according to local media reports.

The daily Alithia reported that Maurice Sehnaoui, non-executive chairman of USB Bank Cyprus, is now “the favourite” to win the bid, following interest that was also expressed by Greek-American Libra Group as well as Bob Diamond, a former group Chief Executive Officer of Barclays.

Only Diamond and Sehnaoui made it to the shortlist to submit binding offers, according to media reports.

The new investors are expected to inject capital and cash. Piraeus Bank Cyprus has five branches (one in each town) and about 300 staff.

The most recently available financial information on the Piraeus Bank Cyprus website is for May 2015, where it reports assets of €1.16bn. The bank was liquid, with €682,000 in loans and advances to customers and just over €1bn in customer deposits as of May 2015.

Piraeus Group Chairman Michael Sallas told reporters in April this year that the group intended to shed its Cyprus subsidiary by the end of 2016. The Greek group has been counting Piraeus Bank Cyprus as a discontinued operation since the end of December 2015.

The Greek group is 26.2% owned by HFSF, the Greek bank bailout fund and reduced its losses to €37m in the first quarter of 2016 from €1.2bn in the fourth quarter of 2015.

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