Emporiki Bank

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Commercial Bank of Greece
Εμπορική Τράπεζα της Ελλάδας
Private
Industry Finance and Insurance
Founded 1907 as Commercial Bank of Greece
Headquarters Athens, Greece
Products Commercial banking, Investment banking, Private banking, Asset management
Number of employees
4,000
Parent Alpha Bank
Website www.emporiki.gr

Commercial Bank of Greece (Greek: Εμπορική Τράπεζα της Ελλάδας) was a Greek bank. Its headquarters was in Athens. On 1 February 2013, Alpha Bank bought Commercial Bank.

History[edit]

The Commercial Bank of Greece (CBG) was established in 1907 and two years later listed on the stock exchange. In 1922, CBG established Commercial Bank of the Near East (CBNE) in London with CBG as a major shareholder. CBG expanded its international operations further by opening a branch in Alexandria in 1925, and subsequently another in Cairo.

After the Suez Crisis in 1956, Egypt nationalized the operations of British and French banks. To avoid nationalization, in 1957 Commercial Bank of the Near East, which was incorporated in London, transferred its branches in Egypt to Commercial Bank of Greece. This proved to be of only temporary help as in 1960 the Egyptian government nationalized all banks in Egypt, including CBG’s branches in Cairo and Alexandria.

At about the same time, i.e., in 1959, CBG acquired the Greek operations of Ionian Bank, including its ownership of Popular Bank. CBG continued to operate the bank separately, and later renamed it Ionian and Popular Bank of Greece. CBG also acquired a major shareholding in Banque du Piree (Piraeus Bank), which had been established in 1916. CBG continued to grow in Greece via acquisition when in it acquired a major share holding (29% in 1995) in Bank of Attica, which had been established in 1925.

In 1965, CBG entered the European Common Market when it created Griechische Handelsbank in Frankfurt am Main. Later this subsidiary changed its name to Commercial Bank of Greece (Germany).

Twenty-five years later, in 1990, CBG renamed its subsidiary in London to Commercial Bank of London.

In 1994 CBG finally opened its first branch in Nicosia, Cyprus. The next year CBG’s International Banking Unit in Limassol, Cyprus commenced operations. CBG also started to expand in the former Communist countries. First, it became a strategic investor in Bulgarian Investment Bank. However, CBG sold Commercial Bank of London to Alpha Credit Bank (now Alpha Bank), which renamed it Alpha Bank London.

In 1996 Bulgarian Investment Bank became International Commercial Bank (Bulgaria). CBG owned 91%, directly and indirectly, of the bank. CBG also established a wholly owned subsidiary, International Commercial Black Sea Bank (Romania), which later became Commercial Bank of Greece (ro) (Romania). CBG establishes International Commercial Black Sea Bank (Georgia) together with the EBRD and United Georgian Bank. (United Georgian Bank was the result of the merger of three banks: Industrial Bank, Eximbank and New Georgian Bank – formerly Savings Bank.)

While it was expanding internationally, CBG started to rationalize its Greek holding. Thus in 1997 CBG reduced its position in Attica Bank to 18%. More importantly, two years later it sold its 51% stake in Ionian Bank to Alpha Credit Bank. In 2001, CBG incorporated Commercial Bank of Greece (Cyprus), of which it owned 75%, and to which it contributed its four branches in Cyprus and its International Banking Unit there. At some point, Commercial Bank of Greece rebranded all its operations as Emporiki Bank.

CBG's second move into the former Communist bloc occurred in 1998 when it established International Commercial Bank (Moldova), and Commercial Bank of Greece (Armenia). The next year CBG established a representative office in Odessa, and Intercommercial Bank (Albania) SA, which started operating in 2000. In 2000, CBG acquired Romanian International Commercial Black Sea Bank and 35% of FinCom Bank in Moldova. However, in 2002, CBG started to undo its previous international expansion outside the Greek-speaking parts of the Mediterranean. First it disposed of its subsidiaries in Armenia, Georgia and Moldova. Then in 2005, Emporiki Bank disposed of its German subsidiary.

In 2011 Crédit Agricole bought 95% of the stocks and took the bank from the stock market. The profitable susidaries in Albania, Bulgaria and Romania where integrated into Crédit Agricole. Subsequently, the less profitable branch in Greece fall into crisis and was sold off one year later to Alpha Bank for €1.

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