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Attracting investor interest for Co-op Bank ‘a must’, financial ombudsman says

Attracting investor interest for the Cyprus Cooperative Bank is a must and a move everyone should contribute in, in order to shield the Cypriot economy, Financial Ombudsman Pavlos Ioannou has said.

Addressing the annual property exhibition, Ioannou said that accumulated non-performing loans were not just a result of the economic crisis but also “a creation of the behaviour of the bank’s main structure” According to him this is why “immediate action is needed.”

Cooperative credit institutions “are no longer cooperative,” he said.

The financial ombudsman, who also expressed his approval of a move by the ministry of finance to attract investor interest in the co-op, said the ministry’s recent steps “constitute well thought out and clever moves” which apart from having shielded the system from various uncertainties and insecurities would create the basis for the privatisation of the bank.

In his address he also noted that everyone should contribute in the effort to have a successful outcome.

Under pressure from the EU Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) to raise provisions against bad loans depleting its capital, the CCB launched on March 19 a privatisation process offering potential investors two options, either acquiring the whole banking entity or acquiring its performing operations and a part of its banking network or its non-performing loans amounting to €6.2 billion which amount to 60% of its total loan book.

Cyprus bailed out the CCB in 2014 injecting €1.5 billion using loans it received from the EU and the IMF as part of the €10 billion financial assistance programme. In 2015 the government injected an additional €0.17 billion to boost the CCB’s capital.

In December 2017 the CCB’s capital amounted to €1.1 billion.

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