Greek banks beat NPE reduction target in Q3

Greek banks beat NPE reduction target in Q3

Greek banks made further progress in reducing their exposure to doubtful and nonperforming loans during the third quarter, central bank data showed on Tuesday.

At the end of September, so-called nonperforming exposures (NPEs) – the biggest challenge facing the sector – had fallen by 2.6 percent to 99.14 billion euros, or 50.1 percent of banks’ overall loan book, the data showed.

That is 0.8 percent better than the target.

NPEs comprise nonperforming loans (NPLs) – past credit due for more than 90 days – and restructured loans likely to turn sour.

Cutting them would free up more capital to fund productive sectors of the economy, which is slowly recovering.

Greek lenders had NPEs totaling 14.5 billion euros, or 5.5 percent of loans, when the global financial crisis began in 2008.

While NPEs soared to 106.9 billion, or 50.5 percent of loans, at the end of June last year, banks have agreed with European Central Bank regulators to shrink them by 38 percent to 66.7 billion by end-2019, meaning the NPE ratio will fall to 33.9 percent of their loan books.

The main driver behind the NPE reduction has been write-offs, while liquidations, collections and loan sales contributed to a lesser extent, the central bank said.