LONDON - HSBC Holdings PLC, Europe's largest banking company, has agreed to buy Barclays Bank PLC's branches and fund management unit in Greece.

The Greek banking operation has about $1.2 million of assets and 220 employees in 13 branches.

The purchase would more than double HSBC's branches in Greece, to 23. The fund unit, Barclays AEDAK, reported $153.1 million of assets under management as of December 1999.

"HSBC will use its enlarged presence in Greece to build upon its existing wealth management business," the company said in a press statement issued on the United Kingdom's Regulatory News Service.

Some European banking companies have sought to boost operations in Greece to tap the growing demand there for consumer loans and other financial services such as mutual funds and insurance. Falling interest rates are making it cheaper for Greeks to borrow while boosting demand for higher-yielding assets.

Terms of the deal, which was first reported last month in the Greek press, were not disclosed. Neither company was immediately available to comment. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.

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