ATHEX list­ing “may be post­poned”; Q4 net prof­its at

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Hel­lenic Bank aims to build up its mar­ket share through or­ganic growth, and not nec­es­sar­ily through buy­outs of Greek or other smaller lenders, its chief ex­ec­u­tive told an ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ing of share­hold­ers, prior to a me­dia brief­ing last Fri­day.

The par­al­lel list­ing of shares on the Athens Stock Ex­change (ATHEX) is in the pipe­line, but if de­vel­op­ments are not en­cour­ag­ing the bank may note pro­ceed, while for­eign ex­pan­sion is also out of the ques­tion for the time be­ing.

Hel­lenic wants to build up its mar­ket share in Cyprus, at present 7.1% of loans and 13.8% of de­posits, with an en­cour­ag­ing loans-to-de­posit ra­tio of 51%.

The re­cently re­cap­i­talised lender, ma­jor­ity con­trolled by for­eign funds, an­nounced an op­er­at­ing profit for 2014, be­fore pro­vi­sions, to­talling EUR 158 mln, up 22% from 2013, claim­ing a strong cap­i­tal po­si­tion and “com­fort­able liq­uid­ity” en­cour­ag­ing the group to aim for growth.

But net losses for the year reached EUR 119 mln, ham­pered by the high rate of non-per­form­ing loans, val­ued at 56.6% of the group’s loan­book in the fourth quar­ter, oblig­ing the bank to con­sider 47.5% pro­vi­sions cov­er­age for NPLs.

CEO Bert Pi­jls said that “af­ter a tur­bu­lent two years, we ended 2014 on a steady note, even­tu­ally lead­ing to a much im­proved year in 2015.”

“NPLs are un­der con­trol and the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness di­vi­sion pro­duced very high fee in­come,” Pi­jls said, adding that it is crit­i­cal for the bank to en­ter 2015 with a pos­i­tive mo­men­tum, as three pri­mary risks re­main – the out­stand­ing fore­clo­sures is­sue, a re­gion with in­sta­bil­ity and geopo­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments that af­fect cus­tomers and de­pos­i­tors (i.e. Rus­sian and Ukrainian busi­nesses).

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