ATHENS -- The Hellenic Bank Association (HBA) expressed its condolences on Tuesday over the death of Yannis S. Costopoulos, citing him with a sector description as 'the patriarch of bankers' for his service at the helm of Alpha Bank and his contribution to the contemporary Greek banking system.
Costopoulos, a past president of the HBA, was born in 1938 and had studied naval engineering at King's College at Durham University. His banking career started in 1963 at the Commercial Credit Bank (Emborikis Pisteos). Originating from a family of bankers, he was associated with the history of Alpha Bank from 1996 to 2014, when he was recognized as emeritus chairman of the board.
Costopoulos was considered a pioneer in modernizing the Greek banking system and created Alpha Bank through a buyout of 51 pct of Ionian Bank's shares, in the largest privatization ever carried out in Greece and completed in 2000. In 2013, Alpha also acquired the shares of Emboriki (Commercial) Bank, transferred by Credit Agricole.
He foresaw the consolidation of the Greek banking sector as early as 2000, saying that buyouts and mergers would create larger, stronger and fewer banks, and tried one such merger with National Bank's Theodore Karatzas, but the deal fell through for reasons beyond their power in 2002.
Among his interests were promoting Greek culture, language and the arts in Greece and abroad, through the Ioannis F. Costopoulos Foundation. His interests included ancient coins, and he began the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection in 1972. The collection currently holds 11,000 coins of the ancient Greek world and is considered one of the outstanding ancient coin collections globally.