By Stelios Orphanides
Supervisory authorities will grant a banking license to Ancoria Bank Limited, the first bank to open in Cyprus after last year’s banking crisis which saw the closure of Laiki Bank, the Central Bank said.
“The Central Bank of Cyprus will proceed with the granting of approval to Ancoria Bank Limited for commencement of business as a credit institution provided that the former is satisfied that the conditions have been fulfilled,” the Central Bank of Cyprus said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.
Ancoria Bank, which is a subsidiary of the Nicosia-based Ancoria Insurance, is scheduled to commence operations in the second half of 2015, Evgenia Christodoulou, business development manager at Ancoria Insurance, said in a telephone interview today.
“We believe that there is room to attract some financially healthy clients in Cyprus who are suffering from the lack of liquidity,” Christodoulou, a former Bank of Cyprus manager, said. “We are not about to create a big bank but a small one aiming at growing with small steps”.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity, the new bank’s capital will be in the range of “several dozens of millions euros.”
Ancoria Bank’s business plan provides for the creation of two branches, one in Nicosia and one in Limassol, Christodoulou said, adding that “we are targeting small and medium size enterprises in Cyprus’ market and private clients. There are healthy companies and individuals we can serve.”
As the bank will begin operating with a balance sheet free of non-performing loans and deposits, it will be in position to offer more competitive loans, Christodoulou said.
Apart from Ancoria Insurance, other shareholders at the bank are the Swedish entrepreneur and philanthropist Sievert Larsson, founder of Ancoria Insurance, and the Sievert Larson Scholarship Foundation.