ECONOMY

National Bank set to close several branches abroad

The National Bank of Greece, the country’s largest, will close several of its branches abroad in order to cut costs, according to inside sources. The previous management, under Theodoros Karatzas, had opened several branches in Europe in order to improve its visibility in major financial markets. However, actual results did not live up to expectations, as those markets are very competitive. Lately, many of these branches have been performing badly, offering a limited range of not-so-important services and adding a lot to costs. For this reason, the current management, led by Chairman and CEO Takis Arapoglou, has decided to close the bank’s branches in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris and consolidate their activities in the London branch, the most active in Europe. A timetable has not been provided yet, but senior managers say the move will be made as soon as possible. More closures are to be expected among National’s 283 branches abroad. Arapoglou is concentrating at present on the Greek market, where he sees greater scope for growth. Among the moves expected in coming months are new products, new training schemes for employees, productivity incentives and cooperation with foreign financial groups. Arapoglou, along with Giorgos Filos, general director of retail banking, visited Santorini yesterday and met with 130 businesspeople.