ECONOMY

NovaBank aims to triple client base by end 2003

Sixteen months after commencing operations, NovaBank yesterday said it plans to near-double its network and triple its client base by the end of 2003 as well as move into private banking and bancassurance, underlining its gradual transformation from boutique bank to full-service financial institution. Managing Director Yiannis Pexlivanidis told a press conference that the bank aims to expand its countrywide network to 120 by the end of next year from the present 72. It will open 40 branches during the current year. «NovaBank’s clients numbered 115,000 at the end of January and we aim to boost this to 350,000 by the end of next year,» he said. Hellenic American Securities analyst George Pittas said the 350,000-customer goal would give NovaBank a 3-percent share of the market. «This is a logical target for a new bank,» he said. The bank, a joint venture between Portugal’s Banco Comercial Portugues and Greek insurance group Interamerican, posted a loss of 29 million euros in its first 16 months of operation but is projected to see profits in 2003. Pexlivanidis said NovaBank’s board of directors has given the green light for the bank’s expansion into the highly competitive sectors of private banking, business banking and bancassurance. The bank’s venture into bancassurance will be facilitated by the recent agreement between Pan-European consortium Eureko and Interamerican to cooperate in mutual fund management in Greece. The deal sets out a distribution role for NovaBank. Pexlivanidis said the bank has set aside 34 million euros for investments this year, not including additional funding for its new activities. NovaBank is set to double its capital to 293 million euros this year from 147 million euros. Referring to the acquisition of Turkey’s Sitebank last month, he said the move underlines NovaBank’s goal of expanding into neighboring countries. The Turkish banking supervisory board took over financially troubled Sitebank together with 17 other insolvent banks last year under reforms backed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. NovaBank’s assets at the end of 2001 stood at 1.3 billion euros. Deposits amounted to 333 million euros and mortgage loans 131 million euros. Funds under management came to 2 billion euros while 75,000 credit cards were issued out.