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National Bank of Greece ends talks with Chinese firm for sale of insurance unit

National Bank of Greece SA will no longer proceed with further negotiations with Chinese investment company Gongbao Group for the sale of the lender's wholly owned insurance unit, Ethniki Hellenic General Insurance SA.

In June, National Bank of Greece reportedly received a binding offer from the Shanghai company for a majority stake in Ethniki Insurance. Gongbao had offered more than €650 million for a 75% stake in the insurance subsidiary, according to Ekathimerini.

The Greek lender said Oct. 17 that it has decided to end discussions after assessing various aspects of the offer, including certainty of the successful conclusion of the transaction. The bank, however, noted that it remains committed to exploring alternative options of compliance with its commitments under the restructuring plan as agreed with the European Commission's Directorate-General for Competition.

The unit's sale could potentially take place in 2019, Reuters reported the same day, citing an unnamed National Bank of Greece official. EU competition authorities reportedly has an agreement with the Greek lender that it will have sufficient extra time to sell Ethniki Insurance, past December 2018.