Financial Times: Greece rescue fund demands Piraeus banker step down

14 Ιαν 2016

Greece’s bank rescue fund has demanded the resignation of Anthimos Thomopoulos, chief executive of Piraeus Bank, the country’s largest commercial lender, in a sign that international creditors are seeking to accelerate a clean-up of the troubled sector.

   The unexpected move by the powerful Hellenic Financial Stability Fund came amid rising pressure on the banks to address a mountain of non-performing debt accumulated during Greece’s prolonged economic crisis.
   Mr Thomopoulos could not be reached immediately for comment. Two senior Greek bankers confirmed local reports that he had been asked to step down.
   This is the first time since the fund was set up with cash from Greece’s first international bailout in 2010 that it has moved to sack a senior banker. Staffed by senior Greek financial experts appointed by the government with approval from the creditors, the Fund has monitored the banks more closely since the leftwing Syriza government came to power.
   “This is the first time the HFSF has shown its teeth,” said one prominent Athens banker. “But we may see further interventions aimed at overhauling top management at the big banks.”
   Piraeus holds a larger percentage of non-performing loans - amounting to about 50 per cent of total lending - than the other three big lenders - Alpha, National Bank of Greece and Eurobank. Mr Thomopoulos joined in 2013 from National Bank of Greece, the second-biggest lender, where he served as deputy chief executive.
   Piraeus struggled to raise fresh funds from private foreign investors in the banks’ latest round of capital-raising in November, taking longer than the other banks to raise its target of €1.34bn despite confident assertions by Mr Thomopoulos that the issue would be quickly oversubscribed.
   Piraeus drew another €3.3bn from the HFSF in common shares and convertible contingent bonds - known as “Cocos” - to address capital needs stemming from last year’s stress tests overseen by the European Central Bank. The capital raising left the HFSF with a stake of 25 per cent in Piraeus, compared to holdings of less than 10 per cent in other Greek lenders.
Πηγή: Financial Times

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