ECONOMY

Eurobank eyes 700 dismissals by November 15

Greece’s third-biggest lender, Eurobank, plans to shed about a tenth of its workforce through voluntary redundancy as part of measures to make it fit for privatization.

Eurobank is one of four top Greek banks that were bailed out by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Athens faces a March 2014 deadline to return it to the private sector, either fully or partially.

Eurobank employees have until November 15 to say whether they accept the deal, which contains a compensation package whose size depends on their years of service with the company.

“The particularly critical economic conditions we’re all under in the last years … oblige us to further adjust the group to new realities,” the bank’s management said on Tuesday.

Eurobank aims to cut at least 700 jobs, about a tenth of its Greek workforce, a bank official told Reuters.

Greek bank bailout fund HFSF has injected 5.84 billion euros of EU/IMF funds into Eurobank to boost its capital and owns about 95 percent of the lender.

The HFSF has spent about 38 billion euros so far to prop up Greece’s banking system through a deep, six-year recession.

In exchange, the HFSF requires Greek lenders to consolidate and cut their costs. It hopes to eventually re-sell the majority stakes it holds in Greece’s four major banks back to private shareholders.

The government expects to raise about 17 billion euros through these sales. Eurobank, the only major lender under full HFSF control, is the first to go under the hammer.

Voluntary exit schemes are the most usual way through which big Greek firms reduce staff. Piraeus Bank, Greece’s second-biggest lender, shed about a tenth of its workers in September.

Greece’s biggest telecoms firm OTE and its biggest refiner, Hellenic Petroleum, are also considering voluntary redundancy schemes. [Reuters]