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Greek banks need five billion euro cash injection: reports

ATHENS--Greece's four top banks are expected to need an extra capital injection of about five billion euros, local media said Sunday as the country's international lenders prepared for a new audit of Greek finances.

The Bank of Greece is currently evaluating the restructuring plans of the country's four main lenders — National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Eurobank — before releasing stress test results that will show whether they can absorb possible future shocks from bad loans.

The Ethnos newspaper reported that the central bank's preliminary estimates put the banks' capital needs at around five billion euros (US$6.8 billion), while the weekly Realnews said it would be between 4.5 to 4.8 billion euros.

The central bank said official results would be published by early March.

Officials from the European Union, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund are set to begin their latest audit of Greek finances that will decide whether a new tranche of aid will be released on Monday.

The so-called troika of lenders will also meet with Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.

In January Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos had warned of rising bad loans, saying the “late repayment of loans could lead to a reduction of banks' capital and the need for (new) capital to pay high commissions.”

The Greek banking sector underwent radical restructuring and consolidation last year under the terms of the country's bailout deal with the EU, IMF and the ECB.

The four top banks were recapitalized as part of the terms included in the latest EU-IMF bailout deal.

A period of consolidation of the banking sector followed, with the big four rapidly acquiring smaller rivals and the subsidiaries of foreign banks who had pulled out.

A sum of 50 billion euros from the EU-IMF rescue loans was earmarked for the recapitalization of banks following the heavy losses they suffered by taking part in a write-down of privately held Greek government bonds in 2012.

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