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Why Bank of Cyprus should not be separated

Rather than establishing a separate Asset Management Company, it’s likely that the Bank of Cyprus will set up a separate internal non-performing loan unit to pro-actively manage problematic loans.

bank-of-cyprusAFTER many months of speculation, it appears that Bank of Cyprus (BoC) will not be split into two (commercial and real estate bank) as it seems that the new Board is more keen towards the creation of a separate ‘internal unit’ that will (pro)-actively manage non-performing loans (NPLs).

The transfer of liabilities (e.g. ELA) to a new entity does not find fertile ground within the new Board, who seems to prefer the specialised handling of large debts from experts in restructuring and/or loan proceeds/repayments, i.e. a dedicated focus on managing the workout of ‘troubled’ loans.

One of the reasons that separation should not be made is the difficulty of transferring part of the ELA funding of the Bank and its correlation with loans which have medium-to-long term payback periods. Importantly, the ELA transfer will also require separate approval by the ECB after non-compliance with the specific agreement currently in place.

Also, the problematic asset long-term economic value when ‘transferred’ to this new entity (i.e. real estate bank) is another reason why the separation should not be made. Pricing these assets most likely to lead to a significant discount compared to current book values. Even if the Irish example is not directly linked to the Cypriot one, in Ireland problematic and repossessed real estate assets have been discounted as much as 70% from their book value when disposed.

This in-house non-performing loan (NPL) unit will be created within the Bank which it will handle the largest debtors of the new BoC. The aim of an in-house NLP division is to pro-actively manage problematic loans and ‘wind-down’ currently repossessed (or to be repossessed) assets with a view to maximise recovery value with no immediate time pressures (note that there are also social-economic implications that the policyholders need to address with mass liquidations and disposal of real estate in an armlet where there is currently no market liquidity).

BoC will require the setup a team of asset managers with local knowledge of the banking and real estate sectors, exclusively pro-actively managing these repossessed and non-performing assets. The setup and execution of such a structure requires thorough preparation, especially from the Cypriot authorities but also from the participating banks to ensure that all economic, legal and accounting issues are addressed appropriately.

The new Bank of Cyprus needs to start fresh and regain the trust of its customers, while helping both problematic and over-leveraged customers (corporate and individuals) to find long-term sustainable and creative solutions. It will also have to deal with the legacy of historic expansion and growth in non-performing loans in various sectors of the local economy.

BoC is now adequately capitalised and has exited resolution. New management is in place and they have completed the five-year restructuring plan. The ECB’s Governing Council has recognised the steps taken to restore confidence. Continuing the efforts to create a stronger and safer Bank of Cyprus is in all of our interests. But until then, we have a long way to go…

Dr. George Mountis
Regional Managing Partner
Banking | Wealth & Trust | Asset Management advisory
P.P. (The Parthenon Partners) & Co
Tel: + 357 – 99 49 41 42
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.theparthenonpartners.com

Readers' comments

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  • john says:

    List of repo properties with prices is given to estate agent by the bank. List is out of date as soon as it printed. This was told to me today by an estate agent with Russians viewing property.

    The banks have still not accepted that the collateral they have in relation to the loan is at -70%.

  • Steve.R says:

    As with the CSA in the UK they target the people that are in work and easily traceable or have assets. What about all the NPL that local builders have taken out and then disappeared with the money. These will make up nearly 80 percent of NPL and they are on their doorstep. In my case I sold everything in the UK with a view to retiring to Cyprus. I will never in my lifetime own my Cyprus villa (which is worthless) so if this sort of bully boy tactic is employed then I would not hesitate to go bankrupt.

    At the moment I am making some sort of contribution and keeping the place maintained. Once that stops then it will only be a matter of time before the property goes to rack and ruin.

  • tony says:

    What a joke. This bank sent me a letter dated 22 days before I received it telling me if I didn’t pay arrears they would change my loan to Euro and charge me 14% interest if I didn’t pay arrears in 21 days from date of letter. I phoned them stating I received it after the deadline and explained my financial difficulties and asked if they could restructure the loan. Weren’t interested. Now I have received another letter telling me my loan has been changed to Euro and with 14% interest and that will be taking legal action.

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