Sun, Nov 18, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Greek banks face extra monitoring: bankers

Reuters, ATHENS

Greek pensioners and employees march in front of the Greek parliament in Athens on Oct. 30 to protest against austerity measures. On Friday, senior bankers announced that international lenders are set to enforce additional supervision on the country’s troubled banks.

Photo: AFP

Greece’s international lenders will enforce additional supervision on the country’s troubled banks along with the billions of euros they will provide to shore them up, senior bankers said on Friday.

The so-called troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF lenders wants its own monitors at each bank receiving state support to oversee credit policies and restructuring plans.

“The supervision by monitoring trustees has been demanded by the troika and the EU Competition Commission,” one of the bankers with direct knowledge of the matter said, declining to be named. “The trustees will not only be looking at new credit, they will also have a say on how lenders are managing their entire loan book and their follow-up on existing loans.”

They will also oversee any lending to top management, board members and staff and their families, the banker said.

Of Greece’s second 130 billion euro (US$166 billion) bailout package, 50 billion euros is earmarked to recapitalize the country’s battered banking sector, and international lenders want better supervision to ensure banks follow best practice.

On Monday, Athens unveiled a long-awaited framework to recapitalize its banks, whose equity base was nearly wiped out by huge losses from a sovereign debt swap and rising loan writedowns in a deep recession.

Under the plan, banks will have to issue new shares to achieve at least a 6 percent core Tier 1 capital adequacy ratio plus bonds that can be converted into shares — so-called CoCos — to boost it up to 9 percent.

The private sector will have to take up at least 10 percent of the new shares to be issued to keep lenders privately run. Failure will mean nationalization.

The remainder will be taken up by a bank support fund, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), which is funded from the country’s bailout and has already injected 18.5 billion euros into the country’s four biggest banks.

The HFSF, which will provide most of the new capital by buying most of the new shares and all of the convertible bonds, will become the banks’ biggest shareholder.

Concerns over the dilutive impact of the scheme on current shareholders and an annual 7 percent coupon that banks will have to pay annually on the CoCos pulled the banking index down 15 percent.

“Adding an extra layer of supervision will mean less flexibility for bank managements,” Euroxx Securities analyst Maria Kanellopoulou said. “The troika does not want banks to be nationalized. But given the large amounts that will be pumped into them, it wants to have a say.”

Bankers expressed reservations on the troika’s demand for tighter scrutiny, saying it might prove cumbersome for commercial banking operations.

“This demand by the troika shows lack of trust. It will place too much responsibility in the hands of monitoring trustees who are not commercial bankers,” said a senior banker who declined to be named.

“Overseeing restructuring plans is logical, but when it comes to credit policy it may make things a bit dysfunctional, inefficient,” the banker said. “But the troika thinks this is necessary, and that’s that.”

The independent monitors will be picked from credible auditing firms and will have to be approved by the European Commission. They will report to the troika and have full access to banks’ books, the bankers said.

This story has been viewed 1310 times.
TOP top