The flight of capital from Greek banks last year appears to have boosted bank deposits in Bulgaria and Romania, as Grexit fears, capital controls, the political uncertainty and the 23-day bank shutdown led many small and medium-sized enterprises to relocate from Greece to the other two Balkan states in the European Union.
The figures speak for themselves, as bank deposits in Bulgaria rose 10 percent last year while the corresponding figure in Romania was 8 percent, while Greece saw a 23 percent slump – greater even than at the beginning of the global crisis in 2008.
Bank as well as business sources point out that hundreds of SMEs, mainly from northern Greece as well as other parts of the country, such as Thessaly, withdrew their deposits from local lenders and opened accounts in neighboring Balkan countries. Opening a bank account in Bulgaria and Romania is particularly easy – the two states being EU members.
Small businesses also found easy guidance both from Greek bank officials – as local lenders have a strong presence in Bulgaria and Romania through subsidiaries – and via specialized consultants. Quite a few self-employed professionals and others transferred their savings to banks in the neighboring states too.