Collage by Vima
Greek Minister of Finance Yiannis Stournaras defined the future of the state-owned Post Bank as unsustainable and his words devalued its shares on the Athens Exchange by 29.71 per cent. He made the statement before the Parliamentary Committee on Finance, which had to approve a bill on the increase of the capital of the financial stability fund from 10 to 50 billion euro.
Stournaras’ words found instant response among investors, who began getting rid of the shares of Postal Bank. Within minutes, their value tumbled from 0.2390 to 0.1680 euro per share. Despite the collapse, a large number of shares remained unsold as supply exceeded demand. The bank suspended trading in its shares in the middle of the day. The Greek government owns 34 per cent of the bank's shares directly and another 10 per cent indirectly through Greek Post. National Bank of Greece and Eurobank EFG hold 7 per cent of the shares.
The Minister of Finance has also informed the lawmakers that the term for banks to submit their financial statements for the first six months of 2012, when they suffered from the cuts in debt to private creditors, will be extended by a month, from 3 to 4 months. This does not apply to Post Bank, which will have to report its damage until tomorrow, 31 August. This fact has convinced investors even more that something is going to happen with the bank and in the near future at that.
Post Bank’s employees defined the announcement of the damage due to the Greek PSI as a "great danger that bodes violent consequences for its existence." They announced a 24-hour strike today. According to sources familiar with the matter, the damage to the bank is really huge, its balance is in the red and under normal circumstances, the bank should have gone bankrupt, but the government of Antonis Samaras is determined to not allow it.
The government along with the representatives of the supervisory Troika has been seeking a solution of the case for many months now. So far, the bank financing will continue through the ELA emergency liquidity mechanisms of the Bank of Greece, as is the case of Agricultural Bank ATE. It is also possible to apply the model of ATE – to separate the bank into a "good" and "bad" bank and sell the "good" bank. In the case of Agricultural Bank, Piraeus Bank bought the "good" part. According to those familiar with the situation, the Post Bank transaction is among the government's priorities. In order for the transaction to be carried out, however, the government has to discuss its conditions with the Troika, the parliament has to approve them, Greece has to receive the next tranche of 31.5 billion euro to recapitalize the bank and only then to sell it. As might be expected, the most likely buyers are National Bank of Greece and Eurobank EFG, which already hold shares of Post Bank. However, the case is further complicated by the fact that both of the banks as well as Alpha Bank are interested in buying Emporiki Bank but Credit Agricole is not rushing to decide which one of them will get it. At the same time, the supervisory Troika has required that Emporiki and Post Bank should not be in the same financial group. I.e. the sale of Emporiki should happen first and then that of Post Bank.
To be continued