Bad loans force HFSF board change
Besides the changes expected in the administrations of Greek commercial banks under the guidance of the country’s creditors, a major shakeup is also coming to the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), as the committee charged with assessing its management has called for leadership changes at the bank bailout fund in order for it to respond to the demands of its role.
Within this context, HFSF chairman Giorgos Michelis, chief executive officer Aris Xenofos, alternate CEO Giorgos Koutsos and Executive Committee member Anastasios Gagalis were notified of the main conclusions of the assessment process and asked to facilitate reform in the fund with their departure.
Sources told Kathimerini that the issue of nonperforming loans has long been a bone of contention, with the creditors and the commercial banks exercising fierce criticism against the HFSF. The eurozone and the International Monetary Fund have put pressure on the HFSF management to tackle the issue of NPLs, but the fund has avoided taking any steps in that direction to date.
HFSF sources say that, being a stakeholder in all four main lenders (in some with voting rights and in others without), if the fund were to get actively involved in such a crucial issue regarding the operation of local banks, it would represent a conflict of interest and lead to the creation of gray zones. The bad-loan matter, they stress, must be tackled by the administrations of the commercial banks – with pure banking criteria – and the government – with the creation of the appropriate legislative framework. On the other hand, the creditors accuse the bank bailout fund not only of reluctance and delays on the issue of NPLs, but also of a general attitude in favor of changing nothing, but rather kicking the can down the road.
The creditors also negatively viewed both the government’s intervention in the replacement of the previous CEO of the fund, Anastasia Sakellariou, and the HFSF’s handling – including some non-institutional initiatives – of the replacement of the former Piraeus Group CEO, Anthimos Thomopoulos.
HFSF sources counter that the fund successfully managed the bank recapitalization in a very demanding environment.