Main Greek bank says Canadian fund may help it recapitalise

Canadian fund Fairfax Holdings has expressed interest in helping recapitalise Greece's leading lender, National Bank, the bank said on Wednesday.

"Fairfax Holdings, among others, has expressed an interest in participating in the recapitalisation of the broadened NBG group," National Bank said.

The Toronto-based financial holding company engages in insurance, reinsurance and investment management.

Founded in 1841, National Bank is Greece's oldest and most important lender. It recently completed a buyout of third-ranked Greek rival Eurobank.

The new National Bank group will have assets of over 170 billion euros ($222 billion) and serve 18 million customers daily.

Greek banks last year sustained significant losses in a sovereign debt write-down of more than 100 billion euros and a subsequent debt buy-back.

Their recapitalisation is a condition for the continued release of EU-IMF rescue loans for Greece's crisis-hit economy.

A sum of 50 billion euros has been earmarked for this purpose out of the total EU-IMF bailout fund of 240 billion euros.

At least 10 percent of new capital must come from private investors to keep the banks from being nationalised.

The process is expected to be completed in April, though the banks are hoping to postpone this deadline.

NBG in particular has pointed to its ongoing merger with Eurobank as justification for a delay, Greek reports said.