GREECE - The National Bank of Greece (NBG) is establishing a pension insurance company in Turkey through its majority ownership at Turkey's Finansbank.

The NBG bought a 46% stake in Finansbank for €2.3bn in April 2006. The takeover sparked an industry-wide debate in Greece and Turkey on the benefits of wider economic co-operation between the two countries.

NBG is expected to launch life and pensions business in Turkey through its subsidiaries, Ethniki Insurance, the oldest insurance company of Greece, and NBG BancAssurance.

It is also planning to start selling Turkish equities to international institutions.

"The Turkish economy represents the biggest opportunity in the broader region of south eastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean," states the 2007-2009 business plans of the NBG Group.

"The achievements of Finansbank, an out-performer in the Turkish market, have exceeded our expectations. Finansbank has a history of dynamic growth even in tough market conditions and has consistently delivered impressive financial results," it added.

At present, domestic players dominate the Turkish pensions market, which has total assets of €1.73bn. Of the 11 existing pension funds only three - Fortis, Basak Emeklilik and Aviva - are in foreign ownership.