In­vestor in­flux shak­ing up Cyprus

For­eign cap­i­tal is tak­ing stock in Cyprus, stim­u­lat­ing a re­turn in con­fi­dence.

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - by David Lozano david@the-busi­ness­re­

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.

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