EU Studying National Bank-Eurobank Effect on Greek Debt

European authorities will consider the impact on sovereign finances of the proposed merger between National Bank of Greece SA and Eurobank Ergasias SA, European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said today.

Bailly said he could not confirm reports in the Greek media that the so-called troika administering the country’s bailout is blocking or slowing the planned merger between the two banks. In comments to reporters in Brussels, he said the merger would receive extra layers of review linked to Greece’s 130 billion-euro ($168 billion) second bailout.

“When it comes to a country under financial assistance, of course we have to make sure that this will not have an impact on the level of defict and debt of the concerned country,” Bailly said. “We have to go beyond just the assessment of the EU rules related to mergers and we have to also integrate the possible impact on the public deficit or the public debt, especially if the state concerned would like to increase its share in the future entity.”

The troika, which is made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, is currently in talks with officials in Athens about Greece’s program. Bailly declined to provide details on the discussions.

Greece has proposed state aid for banks including National Bank and Eurobank, which still needs EU approval. The proposed merger is not yet under formal review by the EU’s competition agency.