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Greek Alpha Bank plans big Balkan expansion
Alpha Bank, Greece's second largest lender, plans to expand aggressively in south-eastern Europe in the next three years, tapping into the region's high credit expansion and economic growth potential, news agency Reuters said on Monday, January 16. In its business plan to 2010, published on its Web site on Monday, Alpha said it expected profit from its south-eastern European business to account for 20% of total group earnings in 2008, up from an estimated 11% in 2005.

Alpha, which has operations in Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia and Cyprus, said it planned to more than double its outlets in south-eastern Europe to 436 in 2008 from 176 last year. It forecast a market share of at least 10% by 2010.

'The bank is quite aggressive in its Southeast Europe expansion, targeting an additional 260 branches in a 3-year period,' said Alpha Finance analyst Dimitris Haralabopoulos.

Alpha said it expected credit expansion in the Balkans to remain strong. Lending to households, up 73% last year, is forecast to grow by 32% in '08, said Reuters.

The bank competes with domestic rivals National , Greece's largest, Piraeus and EFG Eurobank in the Balkans. Other competitors in Southeast Europe include Austria's Raiffeisen Bank, France's Societe Generale, Italian banks Unicredito and Banca Intesa and Hungary's OTP, said Reuters. Dnevnik

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