Investor influx shaking up Cyprus
Foreign capital is taking stock in Cyprus, stimulating a return in confidence.
Cyprus has completely reformed its banking sector. HARRIS GEORGIADES Minister of Finance, Republic of Cyprus
The market is beginning to recognize us as a bank that is looking to lend. MARIOS SAVVIDES Deputy CEO, Astro Bank
C yprus’ once-imperiled economy has regained positive investor sentiment and is now absorbing new capital, especially i n banking and tourism-related projects. “It all comes down to confidence and confidence in the banking sector has been restored,” Cyprus’ finance minister, Harris Georgiades, told The Business Report. “There is also significant investment in t ourism- related projects, ranging from the largest integrated casino-resort in Europe to new seaside hotels.” One of the latest investors, a consortium led by a Lebanese business magnate, has contributed by rebranding the former Piraeus Bank Cyprus into Astro Bank, while injecting 40 mill i on euros i n new capital. Launched in March 2017, Astro Bank is already reporting positive feedback. “The market is beginning to recognize us as a bank that is looking to lend,” said Marios Savvides, Astro Bank’s Deputy CEO. “We have dissociated from Greek risk, are out of deleveraging mode and now after growth,” he added. While tackling nonperforming loans will remain a chief concern, Cyprus is now better equipped to address this debt. “Cyprus has completely reformed its banking sector,” Georgiades declared, “which is now smaller but better capitalized and supervised.” Foreign capital is also flowing into aviation. Last year, Cyprus-based Cobalt Air received an equity injection from Hong Kong in one of the latest overseas purchases in tourism-related industries. Investment in tourism infrastructure continues to be seen as a safe venture, being that the sector was “never put in jeopardy,” Georgiades observed. “Tourism spearheaded the recovery of the economy, and now we are achieving record growth in terms of economic output,” he said.