Behind Economic Comeback, Greece Will Finish Five Bank Stakes Sales

ATHENS – Greek banks that needed 50 billion euros ($54.09 billion) in bailouts to stay afloat during a 2010-18 economic crisis have recovered along with the economy, allowing the state to finish selling stakes in five of them.

Finance Minister Kostis Hatzidakis told Reuters that, “We had very significant interest expressed by many investors and that’s why we are aiming at finishing this process by the end of this year,” as Greece has rebounded.


It has been a remarkable return for an economy that shrank 25 percent during the crisis that brought crushing austerity to workers, pensioners and the poor while the rich and shipping oligarchs prospered.

Investors are also returning after most ratings agencies lifted Greece bank into investment grade status and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, with a business background, has successfully lured major international companies, including IT and high-tech.

The state recently sold its stake in three major banks, raising more than 2 billion euros ($2.17 billion), the latest sale of a 27 percent stake in Piraeus Bank, was oversubscribed eight times as investors jockeyed for position.

Under an agreement with creditors, Greece has until the end of 2025 to complete the sales but decided to move faster. Its remaining 18.4 percent participation in National Bank, the country’s largest lender, and 72 percent in the smaller Attica bank will be sold this year.

“We found that there was no reason to delay, to drag our feet,” said Hatzidakis as the banks have seen deposits return and raking in big profits after selling off bad loans to collection agencies hounding people to repay debts even if they can’t.

Greece is still the most indebted nation of the 20 members of the Eurozone using the euro as a currency but Mitsotakis has been driving a recovery, the government expecting to raise 7.1 billion euros ($7.68 billion) from 10 privatizations over the last eight months.

That’s a record amount that Hatzidakis said will help cover its 2024 budget target of 5.7 billion euros ($6.17 billion) and after the government sold 30 percent of Athens International Airport in an Initial Public Offering of 790 million euros ($854.56 million.)

Another 4.6 billion euros ($4.98 billion is expected to be raised this year from two concessions for two roll roads and plans to sell stakes in ports and marinas on the island of Crete and in central Greece, the news site said.

“We are determined to continue more or less the same way, pressing ahead with all necessary structural reforms just to transmit the message that this country has became a business friendly country,” Hatzidakis said.


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