Hellenic Bank announced on Tuesday that approximately 450 people have been approved to leave as part of the ‘milestone’ voluntary retirement scheme, which will cost the bank €70 million.

The plan was offered to employees of the bank and its subsidiaries for voluntary retirement with a one-off gratuity payment aimed at reducing the operating costs and achieving recurring profitability.

“The completion of the plan marks an important milestone in the bank’s reorganisation process and in its efforts to further strengthen its financial position,” Chief Executive Officer Petros Arsalides said.

He also thanked colleagues leaving the group for their valuable service and assured clients and stakeholders of the bank’s strong commitment to continue to deliver high quality service.

According to the bank, about 450 employees, which account for 17 per cent of staff, have been approved to participate in the scheme.

“The cost of the plan is expected to impact the group’s financial results for the quarter ending December 31, 2022,” the bank said.

It also noted that the annual salary costs for these employees amount to approximately €30 million, with the corresponding cost savings starting in 2023, excluding any salary increases for the remaining staff.

The scheme was the result of an agreement with the bank employees’ union Etyk.

Initially, Hellenic Bank’s CEO Oliver Gatzke, who was suspended last month pending an investigation into comments he had made to staff about the bank’s share price, had insisted the level of compensation was excessive.

There was deadlock in the dispute for months with employees proceeding with a 24-hour strike after 300 workers received redundancy notices. But an agreement was reached following Gatzke’s suspension.