ECONOMY

Alpha Bank on course with extensive restructuring program

Alpha Bank is intensifying its cost- and expense-cutting efforts. During the first half of the year, more than 100 of its employees have retired and over 750 have taken advantage of the bank’s voluntary retirement program. Alpha Bank has set a target for the average number of employees per branch to be reduced by one by the end of 2006, and for its cost/revenue ratio to be restricted to 47 percent. The ratio now stands at 47.7 percent and is the lowest among the large Greek banks. Alpha has reduced the number of its branches by 50 since last year in the framework of an extensive restructuring of its branch network. The reduction has had particularly positive results in limiting operational costs, as the branches abandoned have either saved rent payments or have been sold, adding to revenues. The bank also has an ongoing internal program of redeploying human resources. The number of branch employees was reduced by 1,200 in the 2002-2003 period, while a further 450 have been transferred to new positions as part of its extensive restructuring program. The program aims at the integration of accounting, office automation, marketing and other operations at group level. It also aims at improving automation in transactions, concentrating all office work per product in particular locations, and expanding the electronic management of documents. The bank is also investing heavily in new, information technology systems, planning to spend up to 60 million euros by 2005. This will include an integrated information platform for foreign subsidiaries. Alpha Bank’s operational expenses increased during the first half of the year by 4.2 percent, while core operational revenue was up 21.1 percent. Of the rise in expenses, 2.2 percentage points was due to wage increases, after the signing of the new collective wage agreement in the second quarter.