ECONOMY

HFSF under great pressure from troika, banks, employees over TT

The sale of Hellenic Postbank (TT) is in the final stretch, with the decision of choosing the best bidder up to the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, which has to decide by Friday.

The HFSF, which currently controls not only TT but also all four of the banks – National, Eurobank, Alpha and Piraeus – bidding for its significant deposits dowry, was reportedly happy to receive four offers, some of which are said to include cash that exceeds 500 million euros. However, the fund is reported to be under pressure to preserve the system’s stability to an extent that the seekers of TT’s hand had not expected.

There have been reports of very strong pressure from the country’s creditors for TT to be awarded to Eurobank to help keep the local banking system’s four main players and to assist in the sale of state-controlled Eurobank at a future date. This pressure is said to have come at a late stage in the tender for TT – as was the case with the pressure exerted against the merger of National and Eurobank earlier this year.

Once the HFSF picks the winner of the tender – likely on Friday – the fund will immediately begin negotiations with the chosen bidder so that the agreement can be sealed during the weekend.

The authorities want Hellenic Postbank branches to open on Monday under the control of the new owner.

The pressure on the HFSF is not only coming from the troika but also from the four bidders, which would explain the tension at the fund’s board meeting on Tuesday and the proposal of its managing director to have the tender canceled. This was rejected by the fund General Council, given that the sale of TT constitutes one of the prior actions Athens must complete in order to get its next bailout installment.

Meanwhile, the union of TT employees has called a strike for tomorrow, asking the HFSF to “commit to the specific role, the social character and the autonomy of the new Hellenic Postbank, to the safeguarding of our jobs and of our labor and social security rights.” The statement by the employees’ union also mentions a “coup de grace for the bank through a murky process to auction it off.” This of course only piles even more pressure on the fund.