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Credit Agricole acquires controlling stake in Emporiki

French bank Credit Agricole has paid in the region of E2 billion to acquire a 61% stake in Greek's state-run Emporiki Bank.

The French lender, which already owns an 8.9% stake, said that 1,300 shareholders in the Greek bank, owning 69.57 million shares and representing 52.55% of total share capital, had accepted its cash offer of E25 per share. The takeover was confirmed by the Greek government.

Credit Agricole, which was originally seeking to acquire a minimum stake of 40%, also acquired 25.7 million shares from the government and on the market, taking its total share in Greece’s fourth-largest bank to 71.97%.

Following the completion of the sale Athens will become the focus of the groups expansion in southeast Europe and the east Mediterranean region, the Financial Times has reported.

Greece is seen as an attractive market for the French bank because of its strong economy, which is growing at a faster rate than the eurozone average. The country also has low household debt, which means arrears are low.