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Sale of Piraeus Bank Bulgaria compliant with EU state aid rules, EC says

The European Commission confirmed that the sale of Piraeus Bank SA's Bulgarian unit to Eurobank Ergasias SA is compliant with EU state aid rules, putting to rest a January 2019 complaint made by one of the unsuccessful bidders for the lender.

In 2015, the EC approved state aid granted by Greece for the restructuring of Eurobank and Piraeus Bank, with the conditions that Eurobank would not make acquisitions until the end of 2018 and Piraeus Bank would sell its foreign subsidiaries by the end of 2018.

The aforementioned unsuccessful bidder behind the complaint claimed the sale of Piraeus Bank Bulgaria constituted a breach of commitments given by the two Greek banks as part of the 2015 state aid and that the deal itself constituted illegal state aid due to the alleged influence of the Greek state in the sales process.

Piraeus Bank agreed to sell its Bulgarian subsidiary to Eurobank in November 2018, and the sale was finalized in June 2019, which was after the deadline foreseen in the state aid commitments, but this short delay did not affect the compatibility of the granted aid, the EC noted. It also added that the sale was carried out in compliance with all other state aid commitments and that no additional aid was granted to Eurobank during the sales process.