State aid: Commission finds that sale of Piraeus Bank’s Bulgarian subsidiary to Eurobank did not breach EU State aid rules
Following a complaint, the European Commission has confirmed the compliance of the sale of Piraeus Bank’s Bulgarian subsidiary to Eurobank with EU State aid rules. In November 2015, the Commission approved State aid granted by Greece for the restructuring of Eurobank and Piraeus Bank under EU State aid rules, on the basis of a series of commitments. With respect to Piraeus Bank, one of the commitments was that the bank would sell its foreign subsidiaries before the end of 2018. As regards Eurobank, one of the commitments was that the bank would be subject to an acquisition ban until the end of 2018. Following a sales process, in November 2018, Piraeus Bank announced the sale of its Bulgarian subsidiary to Eurobank, which was concluded in June 2019. The Commission received a complaint in January 2019 from one of the other unsuccessful bidders, alleging that (i) the sale of Piraeus Bank’s Bulgarian subsidiary to Eurobank was in breach of the State aid commitments given by Piraeus and Eurobank in the context of the 2015 Commission State aid decisions, and (ii) the sale of the Bulgarian subsidiary to Eurobank, based on an alleged influence of the Greek State in the sales process, constituted illegal State aid. The Commission found that, while Piraeus Bank did indeed sell its Bulgarian subsidiary after the deadline foreseen by the commitments, this short delay did not affect the compatibility of the aid granted by Greece for the restructuring of Piraeus Bank in 2015. The Commission also concluded that the transaction between Piraeus Bank and Eurobank was carried out in compliance with all other State aid commitments under the 2015 State aid decisions and that no additional aid was granted to Eurobank in the context of the sales process. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the sale of Piraeus Bank’s Bulgarian subsidiary to Eurobank is in line with the State aid commitments and that there was no breach of EU State aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.53105.