Greek optimism pushes European shares towards 7-year peak
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.8 percent, Athens's ATG up 10.9 pct
* Germany's DAX index hits record high
* Santander, BP rise after results
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - European shares rose to near a seven-year high on Tuesday, and Greek banking stocks soared, on hopes a standoff over the country's debt would be resolved after its new government softened calls for a writedown.
Athens proposed ending a standoff with its creditors by swapping the debt for growth-linked bonds. The reported proposals contrast with the government's strident vows last week to ditch the tough austerity conditions imposed under its existing bailout.
Athens' benchmark index ATG jumped 10.9 percent, with the country's banking index surging more than 18.7 percent. National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank and Eurobank rose by 14.0 to 20.8 percent.
"Greek banks have massive potential to recover because if you get a debt deal and Greek banks get some help, then they can reinforce their balance sheets and carry on trading," Edmund Shing, global equity fund manager at BCS Asset Management, said.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, in London on Monday to reassure private investors that he was not seeking a showdown with Brussels over a new debt agreement, said the new left-wing government would spare privately held bonds from losses, a source told Reuters. Continuación...