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In Greece, IMF Presses For NBG-Eurobank Merger, to 40% Market Share

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 18 -- The International Monetary Fund has been known to press for the privatization of banks. But in Greece, as reflected in the IMF Staff Report released at 10:30 am today, the Fund is actively cheering on anti-competitive mergers, including to create a bank with a 40% market share of deposits.

Whatever happened to antitrust, and consumer protection?

The IMF's Staff Report breathlessly reports that "the system is also consolidating to lower costs. Two smaller banks were acquired by two core banks, and merger steps between two large banks, NBG and EFG, are now underway."

Bank mergers are not automatic - regulators are required to review them, including for antitrust. But the IMF goes on to state that "the authorities will allow the NBG-Eurobank merger to proceed. This could have significant business and funding advantages."

After some brief cautionary language, the IMF relies on the "EC’s DGCompetition [to] review the anti-trust aspects of the deal."

So does the IMF, which pushes for and praises this making of monopolies, have no antitrust or consumer protection duty at all? Watch this site.

Footnote: the IMF's Staff Report on Portugal will be released at 12:30 pm, Washington time, today.

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