UPDATE 1-Societe Generale in talks to sell Geniki to Piraeus Bank

* In exclusive talks to sell Geniki to Piraeus Bank

* No further details on talks

(Adds details, background)

PARIS, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Societe Generale said on Wednesday it had started exclusive talks to sell its loss-making Greek unit Geniki Bank to Greek lender Piraeus Bank as it seeks to cut its exposure to the debt-stricken country.

Societe Generale, which controls 99.1 percent of Geniki, had said in August that it was in talks with Piraeus on the Greek lender and that the discussions were at an "advanced stage."

The French bank did not provide further details on the more advanced negotiations, which were first reported by Reuters on Tuesday.

Societe Generale is the latest French lender to pull out of Greece after expanding into the debt-laden country in the early 2000s. At the time, the economy was growing at twice the rate of the rest of Europe, but it soon slammed into reverse.

Societe Generale's French rival Credit Agricole , the country's third-largest bank, on Monday confirmed that it was in exclusive talks to sell its entire Emporiki unit to Alpha Bank at a disposal price of just 1 euro.

Credit Agricole will also inject another 550 million euros into Emporiki and will subscribe to 150 million euros in convertible bonds to be issued by Alpha Bank.

Societe Generale and Credit Agricole are the only foreign lenders with a significant presence in Greece.

Hammered by a deep recession and rising loan impairments, Greek banks have been forced to rely on the central bank for liquidity as access to interbank markets and the European Central Bank remains shut.

Geniki, bought by Societe Generale in 2004, lost 66.3 million euros in the first three months of the year versus a loss of 98.6 million a year earlier. Its losses rose to 796 million in 2011 from 411 million in 2010.

Greece's economy is projected to enter its sixth year of recession next year as government austerity measures to cut deficits and secure continued international funding take their toll.

($1 = 0.7751 euros)

(Reporting by Elena Berton; Additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos in Athens; Editing by Christian Plumb)


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