BANKING

Why Czurda left the HFSF helm

why-czurda-left-the-hfsf-helm

The statements by the former head of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) Martin Czurda about the timing of the Piraeus Bank share capital increase were the final straw in his relations with Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Zavvos, Kathimerini understands.

The Austrian’s statements on Bloomberg, setting the timing of the increase in March and the target for the participation of the fund, were considered particularly unfortunate, given that there had been no prior decision by the bank’s board nor by its general meeting.

According to the ministry, the HFSF, which controls 61.3% of Piraeus Bank, has no such competency in its role. Therefore the statements by Czurda – whose relations with the ministry were never very close – were interpreted as an effort to come ahead of the decision by the Piraeus management and triggered his departure from the chair of the fund.

It is no coincidence that after those statements the bank’s management (which until then was keeping quiet on the upcoming capital increase) was forced by the capital market to inform investors on its planned moves. In a statement at the end of last week, it noted that it is examining the option of a future share capital increase with the participation of the HFSF, alongside private investors.

The statement added that it is necessary for “legislation to that effect to be introduced and for the fund to take a decision regarding its participation and the level that this will have,” thereby distancing itself from the Czurda statements. It added that “no corporate decision to implement any of the possible options has been made to date.”

Kathimerini contacted Czurda’s side, which dismissed those allegations as unfounded, noting that the Austrian official never publicized any more than what was written recently regarding the capital strengthening of Piraeus Bank. This position, while not far from reality, does not justify, in the view of all parties involved, the unfortunate nature of the statement, which appears to have accelerated the dismissal of the HFSF executive before the end of his mandate that had been renewed last September.

Another interpretation of events speaks of a “heroic” departure.