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Banks Reaffirm Backing for EU Agreement on Greece, IIF Says

Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The world’s biggest financial firms pledged support for a proposed exchange of Greek government bonds even after Prime Minister George Papandreou’s referendum threatened to derail the deal.

The Institute of International Finance, a lobby group for more than 450 financial firms, last week reached an accord with the European Union for private bondholders to accept a 50 percent cut in the face value of their Greek government debt.

If voters reject the EU-sponsored plan in a referendum, Greece would risk defaulting. That could put banks at risks of greater losses, and raise concern that contagion will spread to Italy and Spain.

“We will work closely with the Greek authorities, euro-area officials and other relevant parties to agree on, finalize and move toward implementation of the details of the voluntary private-sector involvement,” the Washington-based IIF said in an e-mailed statement today.

The agreement was part of an EU plan that includes recapitalizing the region’s banks and boosting the bailout fund to one trillion euros ($1.4 trillion) to stem the debt crisis.

European bank stocks slumped the most in more than two months today, erasing the index’s entire gain since European leaders announced the rescue measures on Oct. 27. France’s Societe Generale SA, National Bank of Greece SA, Milan-based Intesa Sanpaolo SpA and Commerzbank AG of Germany led the Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index 7 percent lower, the steepest drop since Aug. 18.

Investors who take part in the agreement will exchange their existing Greek bonds for new ones at 50 percent of face value. At the same time, the risk associated with the new bonds will be shared between the Greek government and a AAA-rated issuer, such as the revamped European Financial Stability Facility.

Charles Dallara, managing director of the IIF, told reporters in Washington yesterday that he expects participation rates in the debt exchange would be “very, very high” and the process will “move forward quite promptly here.”

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net; Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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