ECONOMY

Novabank rebrands to Millennium

Novabank, the Greek subsidiary of Portugal’s Millennium bcp, will adopt its parent company’s name, look and logo as it further expands its branch network, executives said yesterday. «The change in name reflects our commitment to Greece,» Millennium bcp Chief Executive Paulo Teixeira Pinto told reporters. «What we have in mind is a very aggressive organic growth strategy.» Millennium bcp, Portugal’s largest listed bank, is in the middle of a 4.3-billion-euro ($5.49 billion) bid to acquire smaller rival Banco BPI. Novabank is the group’s second-largest foreign subsidiary after Poland with a network of 134 branches. Novabank will be called Millennium Bank, the rebranding being part of Millennium’s strategy to build a single supranational identity and a single culture in Portugal, Greece, Poland, Turkey and Mozambique, where its main networks operate. Asked whether the group had been approached to sell Novabank, Teixeiro Pinto ruled out a sale and said the plan called for further local expansion. «Selling the bank is completely out of the question. Greece will become more and more important for us. Novabank is a pillar of our group,» he said. «At this moment we are completely focused on organic growth.» Room for growth Novabank will boost its network to 152 branches by the end of this year, from a current 134, expanding beyond Greece’s metropolitan centers to cover the entire country, its CEO George Taniskidis said. The bank runs its network with about nine employees per branch versus a market average of 20, keeping costs low. Nine-month net profit grew to 12.1 million euros from 1.8 million in the same period a year earlier. «We still have a long way to go,» Taniskidis said. »In Portugal, a country with about the same population and per capita income as Greece, mortgages have grown to 60 percent of GDP compared to 28 percent in Greece.» Novabank’s total loan book has grown 42 percent to 2.7 billion euros this year. Mortgages make up 1.3 billion. Greek banks have been riding a strong wave of credit expansion, as households take advantage of low real interest rates, borrowing money to buy property and consumer goods. (Reuters)