Hellenic Bank dumps Greece chief over sour debts

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Hellenic Bank (HB) has decided to terminate the services of Georgos Panayiotou, its Head of Operations in Greece, following reports that the Greek operations were instrumental in forcing the bank to hike its provisions for bad debts.

Reports suggest that the total of the sour loans could reach CYP 40 mln with massive debts overdue form the collapsed Golden Sun and the troubled New Marathon Tours group. Phileleftheros reported that the amount of bad debts in Hellenic’s Greek operations due to granting of huge loans had impacted on the bank’s overall profitability on the island to the tune of millions.

The Bank said that it has appointed Michael Tagaroulia as CEO of the operations in Greece, while Nearchos Marangou will assume the position of General Manager in Greece.

Earlier this month, Hellenic Bank reported to the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) that “problematic debtors” had contributed significantly to the maintenance of the provisions for bad debts at high levels last year. “As a result, the final results for 2004 will remain at the same levels as in 2003,” the bank said.

Hellenic Bank lost CYP 14.4 mln in 2003, while for the first nine months of 2004, it reported the smallest gain in reported profits, at CYP 4.02 mln compared to CYP 2.4 mln a year earlier, most of which were lost in the reserve account.

Despite the problematic debtors, the Hellenic Bank Group will continue its course of stable growth., an official announcement said.