Greece gets €3.5bn windfall from selling state stakes in big banks

The sale of state stakes in five banks by the end of the year is expected to raise €3.5 bn for Greece, Finance Minister Kostis Hatzidakis told a parliamentary committee.

He said the New Democracy government was focused on “saving Greek deposits as well as Greek businesses and households from a wider collapse and crisis”, even as debt collectors hound those who can’t pay their loans.

Many defaulted during a 2010-18 economic crisis in which Greece received €326 bn in three international bailouts to stave off collapse, with banks receiving €50 bn in rescue packages to stay afloat.

The sale comes after the recovery of the investment grade, the high growth rates and the positive course of most of the main parameters of the economy,” he said, referring to Greece being upgraded to the highest level by most agencies and attracting foreign investors.

Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras said the sales, together with other proceeds from the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), would total about €53.7 bn.

Earlier, Finance Minister Kostis Hatzidakis told Reuters that “we’ve had very strong interest from many investors and that’s why we’re aiming to complete this process by the end of this year” as Greece recovers.

The state recently sold its stake in three major banks, raising more than €2 bn, with the latest sale of a 27% stake in Piraeus Bank 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 has decided to move faster. The remaining 18.4% stake in National Bank, the country’s largest lender, and 72% in smaller Attica Bank will be sold this year.

“We found there was no reason to delay, to drag our feet,” said Hatzidakis, as banks have seen deposits return and made big profits after selling off bad loans to debt collectors who hound people to pay back debts even when they can’t.

Original Story: The National Herald
Edition: Prime Yield