BANK of Cyprus CEO John Hourican said on Wednesday, that non-performing loans are stabilising.
Hourican, who was addressing a conference in Nicosia on the future of asset management in Cyprus and Greece, assured that the Bank is more aggressive in pursuing the ‘high end’ borrowers and compassionate when it comes to ‘lower end’ borrowers, stressing however the need to amend current legislation on the matter.
He further highlighted the need for confidence to return to Cyprus’ banking sector.
“The Bank is delivering, the Bank is making progress”, he assured, adding that “we are announcing each step of that progress as we go”.
What I need everyone in Cyprus to do, Hourican pointed out “is to begin to give us some wind to our sails to ensure that we can continue to make that progress”.
Replying to a question on non-performing loans (NPLs) he said that “we are pursuing all of our non-performing loans with the decree of vigour that we are allowed under the regulation that we found ourselves and the loans we have available to be executed”.
He continued saying that “we are being compassionate in the lower end of our lending space and we are being aggressive at the more higher ends”.
“If we find a viable business we would like to see that viable business can survive and we make any restructuring to ensure that people stay employed”, he stressed.
On the other hand he added that “if we find a non-viable business we proceed to execute collateral that covers our loans”.
Hourican went on to say that “there are results”. If you see the statistics overall, he explained, “you will see that the non-performing loans are stabilised and it is our intention to continue to try and drive an improvement in that position”.
At the same time Hourican dismissed the notion that “nothing is happening”.
It is the case, he said, “that we are having to work one by one in the confines of the legal system of Cyprus, which is very poor”.
“We do want and we do need a change in the law to help us improve the position on NPLs, and that is not to say that we are not placing ourselves as close to the law and doing everything we can on every individual in trying to recover those loans”, he noted.
Replying to another question he said that there are “a lot of things that have to come right in order the Bank to generate capital, generate returns to investors”.
He spoke of the need “to have confidence in the system as a whole”. Banking, he pointed out, “is about confidence”. Cyprus, he stressed, “needs to return to having confidence in its banking system”.
At the same time he reiterated that BoC is “making good progress”, noting that “we have a clear repatriation of overseas capital agenda going on”.
Cyprus received in March 2013 a €10 billion bailout from the EU and the IMF to avert the meltdown of the island’s oversized banking system. However, following the bailout non-performing loans soared reaching €26 billion. Debt restructuring is considered by Cyprus’ lenders as an important element in the success of the island’s financial adjustment programme.
– Cyprus News Agency