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Business Cyprus

Hellenic officially takes over Co-op operations (Updated)

Hellenic Bank and Bank of Cyprus get a boost from Moody's.

Hellenic Bank on Monday officially took control of the operations of the state-owned Cyprus Cooperative Bank (CCB), with officials saying the transition went without a glitch.

Following a takeover agreement with the state, Hellenic is now running the co-operative’s network of branches.

The acquisition is expected to accelerate the bank’s strategy of strengthening its banking franchise across Cyprus with an enlarged and diversified customer base. This expansion establishes Hellenic Bank as the leading retail and SME bank in Cyprus,” said Hellenic Bank CEO Ioannis Matsis. “Through the acquisition, we achieve a significant improvement in the quality and structure of the Bank’s assets and hence in its financial profile, allowing it to concentrate on achieving its strategic goals.”

For the time being all CCB branches will continue operating normally. By early October around 40 branches are to be shut down, and a further 100 branches will be closed over a 15-month period.

Some 400,000 CCB customers have been transferred over to Hellenic, raising the number of its customers to over 550,000.

According to Irena Georgiades, head of Hellenic’s integration committee, as of Monday the bank was ready to service all CCB customers as well as put to work the CCB employees who were transferred.

ATMs from both banks’ networks will service all customers without any charge, and credit and debit cards will operate normally. CCB customers do not need to change their ATM PINs, nor their login credentials if using electronic banking.

As of Monday any Sepa (Single Euro Payments Area) payments between the two networks are being executed without charge and are processed on the same day.

Visa card holders may use them at any ATM of either Hellenic or the now-defunct CCB.

CCB customers may continue to use their existing chequebooks. On September 10, CCB customers will be issued new Hellenic chequebooks.

Additionally, Hellenic said the same credit facilities and overdrafts will apply for CCB customers, as will the same terms and conditions (including the interest rate) for loans previously granted by the CCB.

The takeover marks the final act for the cooperative bank, established more than 100 years ago.

It has now been renamed to Co-operative Asset Management Company, a state-owned asset management company managing assets amounting to €8.3bn, including non-performing loans amounting to €7bn, which will be removed from the Cyprus banking system.

By acquiring the co-operative’s operations, Hellenic is now the second largest lender in Cyprus in terms of deposits and loan portfolio.

Hellenic holds 32 per cent of deposits, trailing Bank of Cyprus with 37 per cent.

Combined, the two lenders hold approximately half of all loans in the Cypriot banking system. Bank of Cyprus has 30 per cent of the share, Hellenic around 22 per cent (having acquired the CCB’s 15 per cent share).

Prior to 2013 and the shuttering of Laiki Bank, Hellenic had been the fourth largest bank on the island in balance sheet terms.

 

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