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The restructuring of the Greek banking market is continuing

07 July 2013 / 14:07:16  GRReporter
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The competition for the sale of TT Hellenic Postbank, the result of which will be crucial for the balance of the domestic banking system, has entered its final stage. The National Bank, Alpha Bank and Eurobank are expected to show interest in the bank. These banks have received access to TT Hellenic Postbank’s financial data in order to submit an offer next week. The talks between Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras and governor of the Bank of Greece George Provopoulos with representatives of the Troika on Friday focused on the issue of TT Hellenic Postbank’s sale by the Financial Stability Fund, which is its main shareholder. According to the memorandum, the sale should be finalised by 15 July, but the deadline may be extended by a few days.

Following its recovery and the voluntary redundancy programme, which ended last Thursday, TT Hellenic Postbank was able to significantly reduce its functional costs. The first cut in employees’ incomes reached 30%, and personnel costs will decrease even further following the departure of 600 employees. Reportedly, the majority of employees participating in the voluntary redundancy programme are more experienced, which further increases savings from salaries. About 1/5 of the staff of the old credit institution will leave. This fact will be crucial for the competition of the sale of TT Hellenic Postbank. The winner of the competition will gain the lead in the restructuring of the sector, since it will acquire a bank that enjoys the best credit-deposit ratio on the Greek market (about 60%), as well as a clean loan portfolio after its recovery.

Meanwhile, the fact that deposits increased in May, following their decrease after the banking crisis in Cyprus, is positive for the banking sector. In parallel, there is a gradual reduction in interest rates. As noted in an analysis of Alpha Bank, the steady increase in liquidity in the economy is expected to accelerate after securing the capital adequacy of banks and depositors’ confidence in them.

"The improvement of households and companies’ liquidity along with the restoration of the confidence in the Greek economy is needed for the beginning of a process aimed at the reduction of the unemployment rate, but also a process that will reverse the deterioration of the Greek banks’ credit portfolio," emphasised Alpha Bank financiers.

Meanwhile, Aegean Baltic Bank, which specialises in shipping, expressed doubts about Attica Bank’s claims that it is the only fully privately owned and independent bank in the country. As noted in the statement, in its restructuring efforts, Attica Bank has repeatedly stated in numerous publications, interviews and articles that in the event of a successful recapitalisation it will be the only private bank without the involvement of the Financial Stability Fund. Aegean Baltic Bank noted that it has already warned Attica Bank "about the inaccuracy of this statement."

The statement also noted that Aegean Baltic Bank, a Greek bank that is mainly involved in the financing of the Greek shipping sector and a large part of which belongs to Greek owners, did not need the support of the Financial Stability Fund, since it had, and still has, a lot more than the required minimum capital stock. "We considered it necessary not to resort to public refutation of Attica Bank’s allegations, in order not to harm its recapitalisation efforts," emphasised the management of Aegean Baltic, adding: "However, now, together with our sincere congratulations on this successful effort, we would like to present the truth: Attica Bank is the second private Greek bank that does not need the Financial Stability Fund’s support. Aegean Baltic Bank is the first, with current capital stock of more than 35%."

The Consumer Protection Organisation has recommended that banks should not charge the so-called "loan processing fees", but only three banks have responded so far. As set forth in the relevant statement, in November 2012, the Organisation recommended that 19 banks refrain from charging " loan processing fees" or "pre-approval fees" or "management" of costs to third parties (e.g. legal, attorney or engineering costs) because they were already included in the loan agreement. Of these 19 banks, only Panellinia Bank, Protonbank and Hellenic Bank Public Company Ltd. have accepted the recommendation. The other banks, including Emporiki Bank, Eurobank, Millennium Bank, the National Bank of Greece, E.F.G. – Ergasias, Piraeus Bank, Marfin Egnatia Bank, Geniki Bank, Alpha Bank, Probank and Hsbc Bank Plc., said that they do not accept the recommendation. Several other banks, such as Citibank, the Bank of Cyprus, Attiki Bank, First Business Bank (FBB) and Credicom Consumer Finance have not yet responded.

Tags: recapitalisation sale restructuring TT Hellenic Postbank Aegean Baltic Bank Attica Bank the Consumer Protection Organisation
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