European Union state aid regulators have approved the overhaul of Greece’s Alpha Bank by reducing its overseas operations, which will ensure the lender’s viability.

The European Commission found the restructuring plan of the Alpha Bank, including the acquisition and integration of Emporiki Bank, to be in line with EU state aid rules.

European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said, "Alpha Bank’s restructuring will make a significant contribution to reinforcing the viability of the Greek banking sector, to the benefit of the Greek economy."

Since the onset of the financial crisis of 2008, Greek financial regulators and the Greek bank stability fund HFSF have repeatedly bailed out Alpha Bank, which prompted the European Commission to enquire into the fact whether the assistance unduly benefited the bank against its rivals.

While assessing the overhaul plan, the commission considered the fact that the difficulties of Alpha Bank did not come from excessive risk-taking but mainly from the sovereign debt crisis and the related exceptionally protracted and deep recession, which started in 2008.

In addition, the EU competition watchdog also approved Alpha’s acquisition of Greek lender Emporiki Bank in 2012.

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The commission noted that the acquisition of Emporiki Bank was positive for the viability of Alpha Bank as the merger created opportunities to realize significant synergies.