The decision by Piraeus Bank Chairman Michalis Sallas to depart from the group’s governing board, announced on Wednesday, constitutes the end of an era not just for the lender but for the Greek credit sector in general. Although his departure had been expected for some time, the announcement of his decision to step down came as a surprise to many.
Sallas early on Wednesday convened the Piraeus Bank board to tender his resignation, telling his associates that his intention is to make way for young people at the top of the bank’s pyramid.
Sallas made sure he informed Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras of his decision first, with the central banker responding with a letter saying: “I wish to congratulate and thank you for the 30 years of your creative contribution to the Greek banking system and the evolution of the Greek economy.”
Addressing the bank’s board, Sallas said that he had informed the competent institutions over his intention not to participate in the new administration of the group since early 2016. “It is obvious that after the recent recapitalization there is a new corporate and financial environment, which may require the experience of old officials but also needs the strength of young people, new managers who will shoulder the burden of leading the bank into the new era.” Sallas also explained that he could not depart earlier as the board was under assessment. It is noted that Piraeus Bank received a positive assessment from the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund.
The Piraeus Bank board unequivocally agreed to proclaim Sallas as the lender’s honorary chairman, appointing Chariklia Apalagaki as a temporary chairwoman.
Sallas’s departure marks the last of a generation that led the growth and aggressive expansion of local banks in Greece and abroad after the gradual liberalization of the banking system in the early 1990s. Sallas in particular is credited with the impressive growth of Piraeus Bank from 1990 to 2008, as well as with the successful handling of the consequences of the economic crisis. However, his last few months were dominated by a clash between the bank and its US investor John Paulson on the replacement of the then chief executive officer Anthimos Thomopoulos.