Greece: China's FOSUN to bid again for ETHNIKI if winning bid fails

28 March 2018 — Vlad BOLDIJAR
China's FOSUN expressed its interest in Greece's largest insurer ETHNIKI a few days before the deadline for the EXIN Group to implement the deal for the acquisition of 75% of ETHNIKI from National Bank of Greece - NBG.

"FOSUN has continuously been interested in becoming the controlling shareholder of ETHNIKI Insurance," Kang LAN, FOSUN Executive Director and Senior Vice President, said in a written response to questions by BLOOMBERG.

"FOSUN's strategy and strong confidence in the company were well recognized by the seller. Therefore, we expect to be considered if EXIN failed to complete the deal."

In June 2017, the National Bank of Greece's board approved the sale of 75% stake in ETHNIKI Insurance to American-Dutch consortium CALAMOS-EXIN after bidding about EUR 718 million. Other bidders were the Chinese conglomerate FOSUN, Shanghai-based GONGBAO and WINTIME.

The sale of the Greek largest insurer to the American-Dutch consortium CALAMOS-EXIN remained under the question mark after CALAMOS Family Partners had filed a legal action against EXIN Financial Services Holdings. According to local media, CALAMOS is seeking immediate repayment of more than USD 41 million owed to them by EXIN under a series of loan agreements.

All in all, EXIN has until end-March to complete the EUR 718 million purchase. If EXIN fails to pay for the realization of the deal, NBG will declare the tender barren.

According to the FOSUN representative, the future tender for ETHNIKI will be at a price that should be adjusted based on the firm's financial data: "We need to re-evaluate the financials of the company before providing an updated offer".

ETHNIKI's sale is part of a larger restructuring plan agreed by Greece's second largest lender by assets with regulators, to exit from non-banking operations.

ETHNIKI Insurance is Greece's largest insurance company, with presence also in Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus.