Greece's Alpha in talks with Credit Agricole

ATHENS, Greece -- Greece's Alpha Bank said Monday it is in talks with France's Credit Agricole to buy its Greek unit Emporiki Bank.

Alpha said it is negotiating the purchase of the entire share capital of Emporiki, and that the transaction is expected to be completed by Dec. 31.

Credit Agricole, France's third largest bank, is seeking to sell its Greek unit as concern continues over Greece's financial crisis, which has battered the country's banks and raised questions about its continued membership of the eurozone.

Credit Agricole has already made a (EURO)2.3 billion ($2.9 billion) capital injection into Emporiki, and would add another (EURO)550 million before the transaction was complete to bring the total to (EURO)2.85 billion. Emporiki's nominal sale price would be (EURO)1, the French bank said.

"This transaction would contribute to the consolidation of the Greek banking sector as part of the restructuring and recovery of the country's financial sector," a Credit Agricole statement said.

Alpha Bank and Greece's Eurobank called off merger talks earlier this year.