Eurobank sees Balkan units doubling profitability


Eurobank will maintain its Balkan footprint in Bulgaria, Serbia and Cyprus after pulling out of Romania, its deputy CEO said on Tuesday, expecting the group’s subsidiaries there to double their profitability over the next few years.

Greece’s third-largest lender by assets clinched a deal in November to sell its Romanian unit Bancpost to Banca Transilvania, Romania’s second-largest bank, as part of a restructuring plan agreed with European Union authorities.

That sale closed a decade-long chapter of ambitions by Eurobank and other Greek lenders to spread their wings abroad after the country’s debt crisis forced them to retreat and sell foreign subsidiaries to boost their capital ratios.

“Foreign operations contribute more than 50 percent of the group’s profitability. Our immediate target is to grow this to 200 million euros,” deputy chief executive Stavros Ioannou told reporters.

Executives said these countries have emerged from the financial crisis and their economies are now expanding by 3 to 4 percent annually, meaning there is room to grow lending to businesses and households.