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Piraeus Bank to sell 1 bln euro property portfolio.

Piraeus Bank, Greece's largest lender, is moving ahead with the sale of property portfolio worth an estimated one billion euros in a bid to lighten up its balance sheet from real estate picked up during the country’s economic crisis.

Dubbed the Terra project, the portfolio consists of properties tied to loans that were not repaid, owned by Agricultural Bank which Piraeus Bank has acquired and buildings used by the lender to accommodate its own operations in Athens.

Piraeus Bank is planning to move its headquarters to new facilities at the Ellinikon complex by 2025.

Bank sources say that several local and international investors have shown initial interest in the portfolio as work on its sale is continuing. Bank regulators have pushing Greek banks to reduce their holdings in real estate in a bid to free up capital that can go towards their lending operations.

Experts estimated that Greek lenders have some 25,000 properties in their possession, estimated by some to be worth some 7 billion euros. Most of this property ended up with banks after unsuccessful foreclosure auctions.

Apart from taking up capital amount, many of them require extensive maintenance work, costing the banks even more, sources say.

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