Hellenic Postbank to be split into good and bad side

By Giorgos Mantelas

The sale of Hellenic Postbank (TT) will go ahead only once the the recapitalization of the Greek credit sector has reached an advanced stage and the state-owned lender is split into a “good” and “bad” bank, the government has decided.

The project of the privatization of TT will follow the pattern set by the sale of ATEbank to Piraeus Bank, with the “good” part of the lender, which includes deposits and the portfolio of performing loans going to the buyer, and the “bad” being put through a clearance process and dissolved.

TT will therefore be delivered to its buyer clean, with its considerable deposits – among the largest in the country – shifting the balance between deposits and loans for the banking group that will acquire the listed lender. This is the main reason why all three major groups in the domestic credit sector are set to enter a bid for TT.

The group of National and Eurobank, the Alpha group and the Piraeus group will fight for this bone of contention in a battle that has no favorites or outsiders. Even though National and Eurobank – which are about to merge – control 12 percent of TT between them it only concerns TT as it is now and once it splits into a good and bad bank, the advantage will be lost. Even if it had existed, however, it would not have mattered that much anyway: “Stock valuations are so low, that the advantage for the new National [after the merger with Eurobank] would not have exceeded 4 to 5 million euros. Consequently, that would matter little in the bidding,” a senior official from another lender told Kathimerini.

Yet at this stage, the sale of TT has been postponed until after the recapitalization of the credit system, sources from the Finance Ministry have confirmed. The recapitilization first requires the disbursement of the next bailout tranche of 31.5 billion euros that will include 25 billion euros for the banking sector.

The degree of success of the recap process will also determine the future of the TT sale, so the realistic scenario is for interest in Hellenic Postbank being expressed after mid-December.