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Three US firms eying €5bn in BoC NPLs

By Stelios Orphanides

Three US financial asset management companies are considering buying up to €5bn in non-performing loans from Bank of Cyprus as part of the bank’s project next month, Bloomberg reported on Monday citing unnamed sources.

The three companies are Apollo Global Management, Pacific Investment Management Co. (Pimco) and Lone Star Funds, Bloomberg reported. Bank of Cyprus dubbed the project as Project Helix.

According to the newswire, a London-based external spokeswoman for Bank of Cyprus which in March reduced its non-performing loans stock to €8.3bn in March or 45 per cent of the total from €8.8bn in December or 47 per cent, said that the lender intended to further reduce its delinquent loans stock through both organic and inorganic activity.

In May, the bank said that it was targeting a €2bn reduction in bad loans in the current year.

Pimco pledged last month to participate in Hellenic Bank’s capital issue made necessary following the acquisition of the Cyprus Cooperative Bank’s operations. According to press reports, Apollo was in the initial phase, one of the investors who showed interest in acquiring the Co-op’s operations when the bank announced its decision to put its assets up for sale.

While non-performing loans in the Cypriot banking system fell below €20bn in March for the first time since December 2014 and are considered a major risk for the banking system. In 2013, Bank of Cyprus was recapitalised with almost half of its uninsured customer deposits and absorbed the operations of Cyprus Popular Bank, also known as Laiki, where depositors lost their savings in excess of €100,000.

Pressure from the European Commission and supervisory authorities led the parliament two weeks ago to updating foreclosure and insolvency legislation.

Bloomberg reported that B2Kapiltal, the subsidiary of Norway’s B2Holding, which in January agreed to buy €145m in non-performing loans from Hellenic Bank, was also considering co-investing in bad loans.

Bank of Cyprus has declined to comment.

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