As Greek systemic banks remain trapped in overwhelming non performing loan levels, non-systemic banks are rushing to make up lost ground promising more generous lending for Greek businesses.
In 2020, Greek financial institutions granted over €20 billion in loans to households and businesses – a record lending level in the country for the last decade. A considerable part of this lending was facilitated though pandemic related national guarantee schemes, as well as bank-specific programs designed specifically for supporting the vulnerable borrowers in the current extraordinary circumstances.
However, there is more room for the institutions to expand their lending in order for the economic recovery to speed up. The Greek government has been putting pressure on the systemic banks to do so but they remain reluctant, sources report.
In this direction, non-systemic banks can play a vital role especially if they capitalize on their low NPE levels, flexible structure and digital transaction channels.
Attica Bank is ranked fifth in the Greek banking sector in terms of assets and is one of the oldest financial institutions in
the country, being nearly a century old. It was however the first Greek bank to successfully complete an NPE securitization back in 2017, which has led to a substantial balance sheet clean-up.
Previously known as the “Investment Bank of Greece”, Optima Bank represents the comeback of the Vardinogiannis family in domestic banking. Under the new brand, the bank has done a 180-degree turn in strategy and business philosophy in the last couple of years, which transformed it from an investment bank to a business-oriented lending institution.
Pancreta Bank has been the biggest co-operative bank in Greece, based in Crete, with assets of €1.65 billion (end 2019). In 2020, it has launched a tender for the sale or securitization of a small portfolio of bad loans and the servicing of all the NPEs that will remain in its balance sheet. Shortly after that successful transaction, the co-operative bank was transformed into a public limited company.
Viva Bank is the first FinTech bank in Greece and the “child” of Viva Wallet – a well-established payment provider founded by the Greek entrepreneur Haris Karonis and operating in 23 European countries. Viva Bank is the evolution of Praxia Bank, an ambitious but failed project led by Atlas Merchant Capital (owned by Bob Diamond).
Vasso Angeletou presents the four non systemic banks of Greece, that are set to play a key role in the country’s future development. You can read the full article in the the January/February 2021 issue of Greek Business File, available here.