Greek banks likely to get more time to recapitalize, says HFSF

Greece’s banks probably will obtain an extension to their end-April deadline to raise fresh capital, executives from the country’s bank recapitalization fund said.

An extension is needed because the two biggest banks, National Bank of Greece SA and Eurobank Ergasias SA (EUROB), are merging. Additional time is also necessary so that the banks don’t try to tap investors simultaneously, Hellenic Financial Stability Fund Vice-President Haralambos Kyrkos told reporters at a news conference in Athens today.

Under the terms of Greece’s bailout from the euro area and International Monetary Fund, the country’s four biggest banks have to raise 27.5 billion euros through common equity and convertible bonds. They need to secure 10 percent of the common equity from private investors, with the HFSF providing the remainder, to avoid coming under state control.

“For the first time we are seeing some recovery of the lost confidence in the Greek economy,” HFSF President Panayotis Thomopoulos said. “After a few months we will get serious investors with long-term horizons.”

Thomopoulos said he expects the so-called troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF to agree to the extension.

Hellenic Postbank (TT) SA’s voluntary redundancy plan of about 700 employees must be completed as soon as possible, Kyrkos said. While the HFSF will try to sell the viable portion of the bank, which it controls, within six months, it is possible that no buyers emerge in that time, Kyrkos said.

The HFSF expects to recoup only part of the 50 billion euros earmarked for the bank recapitalization out of Greece’s 240 billion euros of bailout loans, Thomopoulos said. The fund will probably recover “very little” of the 13.4 billion euros spent on covering the funding gap from the liquidation of Agricultural Bank of Greece SA, Proton Bank SA (PRO) and some cooperative banks’ bad assets, Kyrkos said.