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Moment of truth comes for the shareholders of Greek banks

08 March 2012 / 23:03:25  GRReporter
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The turning point for the main shareholders of Greek banks comes after the end of the process of restructuring of the Greek external debt (PSI), when the time for recapitalization will come. At the end of March the business plans for action in the time of crisis of the Greek financial institutions will be announced, which must be subsequently approved by the Bank of Greece. They will describe how the banks plan to fill the gaps after the debt haircut so that they can stay afloat. The main dilemma is whether it is worth it for major shareholders to inject funds into banks today, or to rely on the Fund for financial stability and to wait 2-3 years before buying ordinary shares from the state, which are non-voting.

Whatever option major shareholders of banks choose, the billions for strengthening the financial institutions will inevitably lead to restructuring in the sector. The capital increase by 2.5 to 3 billion Euros could lead to a dramatic change in the ownership structure of banks. An extremely hypothetical example, given by BankersReview magazine, is that of Eurobank, in which the Latsis family owns 44.7 percent of share capital. If the bank takes advantage of the assistance from the Fund for financial stability and receives three billion Euros for recapitalization, then the shareholding of the Latsis family will fall to 6.5 percent, which is a dramatic turnaround in the shareholding structure. In other words, if the major shareholders fail to recapitalize their banks themselves, they may lose the ownership.

Another parameter that must be taken into account in the forthcoming consolidation of Greek banks is that raising equity capital from the Fund for financial stability will be done at prices much lower than the current ones. According to the law for the purposes and activities of the Fund, three months before the capital increase is calculated would be the average current value of the shares of the bank, which will then be reduced by 50 percent. On this basis the recapitalization of the financial fund will be carried out, which is "fed" with funds from Europe and the International Monetary Fund. Greek analysts estimate that 70 percent of the recapitalization of banks will come from the Fund for financial stability, which corresponds to about 21 billion Euros.

Another way for banks to raise funds is the sale of assets and subsidiaries. Alpha Bank is the owner of one of the best properties in Athens - the building of the Hilton Hotel. It can be sold for more than 200 million Euros, depending on the market conditions. Information indicates that the bank does not rely on an internal reshuffle, but is looking for foreign investors, such as Morgan Stanley, which is likely to join the recapitalization process. So far, calculations show that after the debt haircut Alpha Bank will need about two billion Euros additional capital in order to fill the holes and will not get away without assistance from the Fund for financial stability.

Eurobank EFG, in turn, will require at least three billion Euros in order to meet the criteria for financial adequacy of the Bank of Greece. It is expected that it will not only have to use the rescue fund, but will also have to actively sell assets. Analysts estimate that after the successful sale of its Polish branch and plans to sell the one in Turkey, Eurobank will have difficulties keeping Postbank in Bulgaria and Romania. Most likely the bank will have to sell some of the long list of properties, among which is the building of the King George Hotel in Syntagma. Its estimated value is 70-100 million Euros. The bank may also rely on developers from Lamda Development, with which it is related, in order to release a range of attractive properties at bargain prices.

A year and a half ago the National Bank of Greece, which is still the largest private financial institution in the country, made a wise move by recapitalizing around 2.2 billion Euros. 1.8 billion Euros with an increase of share capital and 420 million Euros bond issue. Thus the National Bank of Greece plans to avoid using the help of the Fund for financial stability, but it will still need another 3.7 billion Euros additional support. Like other financial institutions, the National Bank of Greece will resort to selling assets such as the luxury hotel complex Astera. From there the bank can collect 300-400 million Euros, but complications might occur, since most of the property is owned by the Greek state and another part by the Greek Orthodox Church. From the sale of 20-25 percent of the Turkish Finansbank another 1.2 billion Euros can be collected.

Tags: Greece debt banks Alpha Bank National Bank of Greece Eurobank
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