Pi­raeus fi­nally ap­points a CEO

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY YIAN­NIS PAPADOYIANNIS

For­mer Eurobank chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Chris­tos Me­ga­lou is the new head of Pi­raeus Bank, com­plet­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tive changes in the group af­ter more than a year.

The bank’s board con­vened on Wed­nes­day and, hav­ing ex­am­ined the list of can­di­dates for the post over the pre­vi­ous weeks, the Se­lec­tion Com­mit­tee rec­om­mended Me­ga­lou as the new CEO. The pro­posal re­ceived un­equiv­o­cal back­ing from the board, in­clud­ing the votes of the Hel­lenic Fi­nan­cial Sta­bil­ity Fund (HFSF) – which con­trols 26.42 per­cent of the lender.

The se­lec­tion has also se­cured the ap­proval of the eu­ro­zone’s Sin- gle Su­per­vi­sory Mech­a­nism (SSM) and the Bank of Greece. Pi­raeus Group chair­man Ge­or­gios Hatziniko­laou was in Frank­furt in mid-Fe­bru­ary and had con­tacts with the man­age­ment of the SSM, fo­cus­ing on the ad­min­is­tra­tive changes pre­pared and par­tic­u­larly the CEO se­lec­tion.

Since Jan­uary 2016 the bank had been led by a tem­po­rary CEO, a sit­u­a­tion that – com­bined with sev­eral failed ef­forts to com­plete the process – had opened it up to crit­i­cism.

Me­ga­lou headed Eurobank from 2013 to 2015, af­ter serv­ing as the chief ex­ec­u­tive and South­ern Europe di­rec­tor of Credit Suisse Europe from 2010 to 2013 and di­rec­tor at Bar­clays de Zoete Wedd (BZD). His time at Eurobank was par­tic­u­larly suc­cess­ful and he is cred­ited with steer­ing the re­turn of the bank to the pri­vate sec­tor in 2014 through a 2.9-bil­lion-euro share cap­i­tal in­crease that was ex­clu­sively cov­ered by pri­vate funds.

The new ad­min­is­tra­tion of the Pi­raeus group is now ex­pected to pick up the pace in tack­ling the ma­jor chal­lenges ahead of it, the first be­ing the re­duc­tion of its non­per­form­ing ex­po­sures (NPEs) that cur­rently ex­ceed 30 bil­lion eu­ros.

Pi­raeus Bank has promised the SSM it will re­duce its NPEs from about 34.2 bil­lion to­day to 20.3 bil­lion eu­ros at end-2019. That amounts to al­most 14 bil­lion eu­ros, or 41 per­cent.

Pri­or­i­ties also in­clude im­prov­ing the bank’s liq­uid­ity and at­tract­ing more de­posits.

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