Need for asset management units for banks to recover
The Chairwoman of Hellenic Bank has called for the creation of asset management vehicles or companies so that banks can properly deal with the vast problem of nonperforming loans and the glut in the property market.
Addressing the bank’s 41st AGM, Irena Georgiadou told shareholders “our priorities include the effective management of NPLs and responsible growth,” with CEO Bert Pijls adding that the aim is to turn the crisis into an opportunity for growth.
Georgiadou noted that 2014 was a year which posed great challenges and presented many changes and big opportunities. As regards the economy, she emphasised the significance of implementing important reforms which will assist in attracting new investment.
Georgiadou emphasised the role that, through responsible monetary and credit transactions, the banking system is called upon to play in order to achieve sustainable growth. She described non-performing loans as the greatest challenge faced by the country’s financial system as a whole and pointed out that their correct and successful management requires specialised knowledge. In this context, she highlighted the need to swiftly create the circumstances which will allow the establishment and operation of ‘asset management vehicles or companies’.
According to reports, the government is already pondering setting up a ‘bad bank’ that will undertake the troubled mortgages, probably under the auspices of the existing Housing Finance Corporation, a state-owned lender geared at assisting low-income first time buyers.
Expressing the Hellenic Bank’s determination to enter into a trajectory of steady growth, Georgiadou referred to the Group’s strategic targets for 2015 which include the effective management of NPLs and the growth of market share.
CEO Bert Pijls said parliament’s ratification of the law on foreclosures and the insolvency framework was “a step in the right direction.
However, the legislative framework must be strengthened in such a way so as to allow loan sales where this is deemed unavoidable, a practice which is adhered to by all European countries.”
As regards the management of NPLs, Pijls said that efforts are focusing on realising viable restructurings with viable solutions.
He also referred to four significant figures which indicate the past months’ positive developments and the momentum gained by the Hellenic Bank Group. These include a capital adequacy rate of 17.9%, a net loans to deposits ratio of 49%, some 30,000 new customers and 119 new hirings, with the workforce now at about 1,400.
Pijls also referred to Hellenic Bank’s new housing interest rate – which is the lowest in the market – as well as the debt consolidation scheme for individuals.