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