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Interview with Ms Magdalena Rotaru, APS Holding regional head for Cyprus & Greece

APS Debt Servicing Cyprus supports the resolution of the non-performing loans problem in Cyprus

 

The establishment of  APS Debt  Servicing  Cyprus supports  and enhances the  efforts  for  resolving  the large amount of bad loans in Cyprus. The Regional Head Greece and  Cyprus of  APS Holding,  Ms. Magdalena Rotaru,  says that  the  reduction of  distressed  loans will strengthen the banking sector and will contribute to  the  further  strengthening and  upgrading  of  the international image of the Cyprus economy. Drawing on  the  international  experience   and  expertise   of APS Holding,  APS Debt  Servicing  Cyprus  can  play a major role in resolving the biggest challenge the Cyprus economy faces. Ms. Rotaru added that  as an all-encompassing servicing platform in Cyprus, the company has the capability to provide solutions to different cases of distressed debt ranging from retail to corporate, secured to unsecured, delivered through its servicing or acquisition function.

 

Please tell us about APS Holding and why it came to Cyprus.

APS Holding is one of the largest debt servicing companies in Europe. It currently operates in 16 countries and employs over 1,000 professionals. The nominal value of the managed portfolios exceeds €8 billion. The company expanded to Cyprus through a joint venture with Hellenic Bank, founding APS Debt Servicing Cyprus in July 2017. APS Holding owns 51% majority of the company, Hellenic Bank holds the remaining 49%. APS Debt Servicing Cyprus undertook the management of Hellenic Bank’s non-performing loans portfolio amounting to c.€2.3 billion, and of real estate assets worth €150 million. Another major achievement is the contractual agreement for servicing of the €245m worth of unsecured retail loans that APS Loan Management Ltd acquired from Bank of Cyprus, which is expected to commence in the next few months. The establishment of APS Debt Servicing Cyprus company marks the launching of the first distressed debt platform in Cyprus. The company has its headquarters in Nicosia, and two branches, one in Limassol and one in Paphos, and employs 170 professionals.

• Effective solutions resulting from the company’s international experience and expertise
• An all-encompassing debt servicing platform in Cyprus
• APS is dedicated to investing in the Cyprus economy, searching for new investment opportunities and supporting banks? deleveraging efforts

 

Name some of the competitive advantages of APS Debt Servicing Cyprus that assisted the company in succeeding in the challenging field of distressed debt management.

APS Debt Servicing Cyprus is perhaps the most well-organized servicing platform in Cyprus. Our people are experienced and specialized in their field and our company structure and operations are based on high business standards. The company deals with a wide range of exposures including housing loans, consumer credit, SME loans, as well as loans to large corporates. Moreover, APS Debt Servicing Cyprus draws on the expertise of APS Holding, a company specializing on distressed debt management throughout Europe. I would say that APS Holding has come to Cyprus with a strong conviction that it can succeed here, based on its profound experience and international expertise.

 

How would you assess the company’s operations so far and the overall restructuring results?

APS Debt Servicing Cyprus operations have been very successful up to now, and the company has met all the targets. After the transfer of personnel from the Hellenic Bank to APS, recruitment of new specialized professionals, and following the introduction of the standard functional and operational structure, the company has now focused on the recovery and restructuring of bad loans. As you can imagine, the company’s mission is not an easy one, as the matter of bad loans is quite sensitive for Cyprus. Nevertheless, our experience and professionalism allow us to deal with these cases in an effective way.
So far the company has restructured exposures of circa €500m which include repayment schedule arrangements, full settlements and Debt for Asset transactions. More specifically cash collections reached €160m, the property onboardings €135m whereas real estate sales exceeded €80m which represents the one third of the initial portfolio. Overall APS Cyprus has achieved a reduction of the Hellenic Bank’s non-performing exposures close to €350m.

 

Will APS Debt Servicing Cyprus buy any bad loans?

As you probably know, the current portfolio and assets remain in the ownership of Hellenic Bank, which has the final say on settlements. Nevertheless, debt acquisition opportunities may be investigated by APS Debt Servicing in the future.

 

What’s your view on the problem of bad loans of the Cyprus banking sector? 

“Bad” loans are the largest problem of the Cyprus economy, with rather harmful effects on different levels. The most notable effect is that banks need to increase their provisions, which results to losses or reduced profitability, thus they cannot fully meet their “economy funding” role, providing credit to the business sector and the overall market. Thus, the success of APS Debt Servicing Cyprus will have a positive effect not only on the banking sector but also on the wider Cyprus economy.

 

When do you think will Cyprus be able to put the problem of non-performing loans behind?

This is hard to tell but there is still much to be done and time needed. Companies like APS Debt Servicing facilitate the resolution of the problem. At the same time, the establishment of NPL Management Body, as well as the sale of portfolios from Bank of Cyprus are also positive developments. Another positive factor is the accelerating economic activity which creates new job opportunities, allows for higher income for households and increased business cycle for corporations which of course facilitate debt repayment. In addition, economic growth has a positive effect on banks, allowing them more flexibility in dealing with bad loans. We are optimistic that in the coming years, Cyprus will manage to curb the NPL problem. APS Debt Servicing Cyprus is working hard towards this direction.

 

What are the corporate values of APS Cyprus?

Our corporate values and ethical standards underpin the way we do business, guide our decision making and the professional manner in which our employees are expected to behave. Our major values are integrity, accountability, teamwork, meritocracy and transparency. Individuals working for APS CY are expected to act honestly and in a trustworthy manner, take personal responsibility for individual and collective actions, and to have due regard to others including clients, counterparties and colleagues. As an extension to the above our company has a social responsibility program which includes supporting charitable organizations such as the Cyprus Association for Children with Cancer and Related Diseases, Mana Kindergarten, Unique Smiles, Red Cross and others.

 

APS IS EXPANDING IN GREECE

 

What can you tell us about the role of APS in the Greek market?

APS completed its first transaction in the Greek market in 2018. APS in collaboration with IFC, EBRD and Balbec Capital purchased a portfolio of 2.3 bln euros of 120.000 customers of consumer unsecured portfolio from Piraeus bank. That was Piraeus bank first transaction on consumer NPE in its attempt to reduce their NPE exposure. APS Greece is currently the Master Servicer of the portfolio with 40 employees and a number of collaborating Law firms successfully servicing the acquired portfolio, utilizing local and international expertise guaranteeing solid results for its investors as well as viable and affordable solutions to the debtors. The solutions offered not only take under consideration their current economic status but offer real solutions helping them to service their debts and eventually fully repay them.

 

What are your expectations for 2019 in the Greek market?

Optimize the servicing platform is our number one priority, that will allow us to expand further by either purchasing additional portfolios or successfully undertaking servicing opportunities. Greek market as we all know accumulates a large number of NPL’s (80bln euros) with aggressive targets to the systemic banks to decrease rapidly their NPE exposure by the end of this year. We see that as an opportunity for APS not only to grow even more but also offer efficient and effective services both to our investors and our debtors. APS is expanding now in Greece.


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