Competition rages among top five banks

The pecking order among Greece’s top five banks has undergone major changes in the first nine months of the year, while banks are fighting a fierce battle to secure or improve their position and shares in the market by year’s end. January-to-September data show that EFG Eurobank Ergasias is threatening to beat Alpha Bank to the second spot, behind the National Bank of Greece, as Piraeus Bank has already leapfrogged Emporiki to capture the fourth spot. Piraeus and Eurobank have recorded the highest growth rates, showing a rise in loans (before provisions) by 29 percent and 25.5 percent respectively, followed by Alpha Bank with a 19 percent rise, National with 18 percent and Emporiki with 11 percent. National remains the undisputed leader of the market, though. In recent months, it boosted its shares, particularly in the domains of consumer and mortgage credit, increasing the gap from the market’s second player. Its assets are 45 percent larger than the runner-up’s (Eurobank) and its deposits are about twice as much as those of Alpha Bank, which lies second in the deposits domain. As for the battle for second in the market, Eurobank is not only threatening Alpha but has actually overtaken it in many aspects. According to the nine-month results, Eurobank is second in assets, equities, operating revenues and net profits after tax and minority rights. However, Alpha stands higher in the crucial domains of loans issued (with corporate credit taking the greatest share of the market) and of deposits. It has launched a counterattack in retail banking with very positive results: In consumer credit, it has the highest growing rate with 46 percent against 34 percent for Piraeus Bank in second place, while in mortgage credit it lies third (+35 percent) behind Piraeus (+57 percent) and Eurobank (+40 percent). Piraeus Bank seems to be the year’s surprise, registering considerably higher growth rates than its competitors. In the nine months to Sept. 30, its assets have grown by 38 percent, the best among the big five banks, as has happened in loans issued with +29 percent and deposits-repos with +18.6 percent. Piraeus’s operating revenues have grown by 20.5 percent, second only to Eurobank’s at 25 percent.