ECONOMY

Lending boost of up to 200 mln euros from BSTDB

The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) plans to pump up to 200 million euros of loans into the Greek economy by 2014 in a move that could double the size of its loan portfolio in the Mediterranean country.

BSTDB president Andrey Kondakov said that the lender?s medium-term strategy includes financing an additional 12 to 16 projects in Greece, by issuing an annual average of 40 to 50 million euros in loans to local operations.

?The renewable energy sector is very important to us, as is infrastructure, tourism and shipping,? he told Kathimerini English Edition in an interview on Thursday.

Private public partnerships in Greece are also likely to be financed by the bank, particularly waste management projects and the construction of schools, he added.

Thessaloniki-based BSTDB funds projects in the private and public sector in its 11 member countries, which each hold a stake in the bank. Greece?s 16.5 percent position in BSTDB is the largest and is matched by Turkey and Russia.

Other member countries include Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Albania. Talks are also underway for the inclusion of Serbia.

Despite the difficult macroeconomic conditions in its region, Moody?s upgraded its rating on BSTDB in October, citing its resilience to the downturn and a share capital boost.

BSTDB has already issued 200 million euros in loans to Greece in the last 11 years but plans to pick up the pace of lending as the crisis changes the banking market.

Kondakov said its interest rates ?are now more competitive? in Greece as local banks have upped the cost of finance after being shut off from the wholesale market due to the sovereign debt crisis.

Greek banks have also tightened the lending tap, fearing that customers will not repay loans in the downturn, sending credit expansion into negative growth in December last year.

Alpha Bank said in a report recently that Greek loan growth is expected to remain in negative territory in coming months until confidence returns that the government will not default on its debt.

Turning to Greece?s shrinking economy, Kondakov said he doesn?t see an end to the recession until 2013 when growth will be modest.

?Greece?s efforts to put the economy and public finances in order are credible. The government has taken tough but necessary measures,? he added.