Hel­lenic Bank eyes or­ganic growth, to dou­ble loan­book

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Hel­lenic Bank, the third big­gest lender that is try­ing to shed its con­ser­va­tive im­age of the past by at­tract­ing new busi­ness, aims to use its strong liq­uid as­sets base to dou­ble its loan port­fo­lio through or­ganic growth, and not through ac­quir­ing dis­tressed or other port­fo­lios. But new loans will prob­a­bly have to wait un­til par­lia­ment ap­proves the fi­nal batch of laws on fore­clo­sures and in­sol­ven­cies, that have kept the rate of non­per­form­ing loans in the is­land’s bank­ing sys­tem hov­er­ing at about 50% of the na­tional loan­book, more than dou­ble the rate at bailed-out Ire­land.

Hel­lenic’s NPLs in its 9-month re­sults ap­peared at 56% of the EUR 4.4 bln loan book, up from 46% at the end of 2013.

The bank’s CEO, Bert Pi­jls, has said that de­mand for new loans is strong, as its re­cent of­fer of “cheap loans” for cor­po­rates car­ry­ing a 3% in­ter­est, has al­ready at­tracted bids for EUR 45 mln from a pool of EUR 70 mln co-fi­nanced by the Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank.

“We are look­ing at op­por­tu­ni­ties to maybe in­vest our liq­uid as­sets slightly dif­fer­ently but within the pru­dent man­age­ment the bank has al­ways had in the past,” Pi­jls told the Cyprus News Agency. As a re­sult, Pijs added, the re­cently re­cap­i­talised lender that boasts Daniel Loeb’s Third Point Hel­lenic Re­cov­ery Fund and on­line game de­vel­op­ers Wargam­ing.net among its ma­jor share­hold­ers, has seen its de­posit base ris­ing steadily in 2014 and in 2015.

Ac­cord­ing to Fi­nan­cial Mir­ror data, de­posits as at Septem­ber 30 were up 11% year-on-year to EUR 6.13 bln, from 5.51 bln in the same nine-month pe­riod last year. And this at a time when the Cen­tral Bank of Cyprus an­nounced that Septem­ber saw the high­est de­posits out­flow from the bank­ing sys­tem since July 2013, as to­tal de­posits fell by EUR 850.6 mln.

“When there is un­cer­tainty, it is bet­ter to be liq­uid. Be­ing liq­uid means we are strong, liq­uid­ity means we have an op­por­tu­nity to grow,” Pi­jls said.

The CEO is con­fi­dent that the bank will dou­ble its lend­ing in 2015 over 2014 but cau­tioned that the ab­sence of a proper legal frame­work on fore­clo­sures, which is cur­rently the thorny is­sue of Cyprus’ eco­nomic ad­just­ment pro­gramme.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cyprus

© PressReader. All rights reserved.