BUSINESS

Piraeus Bank finally appoints new CEO

YIANNIS PAPADOYIANNIS

TAGS: Banking

Former Eurobank chief executive officer Christos Megalou is the new head of Piraeus Bank, completing the administrative changes in the group after more than a year.

The bank’s board convened on Wednesday and, having examined the list of candidates for the post over the previous weeks, the Selection Committee recommended Megalou as the new CEO. The proposal received unequivocal backing from the board, including the votes of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) – which controls 26.42 percent of the lender.

The selection has also secured the approval of the eurozone’s Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) and the Bank of Greece. Piraeus Group chairman Georgios Hatzinikolaou was in Frankfurt in mid-February and had contacts with the management of the SSM, focusing on the administrative changes prepared and particularly the CEO selection.

Since January 2016 the bank had been led by a temporary CEO, a situation that – combined with several failed efforts to complete the process – had opened it up to criticism.

Megalou headed Eurobank from 2013 to 2015, after serving as the chief executive and Southern Europe director of Credit Suisse Europe from 2010 to 2013 and director at Barclays de Zoete Wedd (BZD). His time at Eurobank was particularly successful and he is credited with steering the return of the bank to the private sector in 2014 through a 2.9-billion-euro share capital increase that was exclusively covered by private funds.

The new administration of the Piraeus group is now expected to pick up the pace in tackling the major challenges ahead of it, the first being the reduction of its nonperforming exposures (NPEs) that currently exceed 30 billion euros.

Piraeus Bank has promised the SSM it will reduce its NPEs from about 34.2 billion today to 20.3 billion euros at end-2019. That amounts to almost 14 billion euros, or 41 percent.

Priorities also include improving the bank’s liquidity and attracting more deposits.

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