ECONOMY

Eurobank’s corporate facilities

EFG Eurobank is launching new products and services in response to corporate clients’ rising needs and in order to improve its market shares. Greece’s third-largest lender is mainly targeting outward-looking companies which bolster the growth of the Greek economy, the bank’s director general of Corporate Banking, Giorgos Marinos, told Kathimerini in an interview. What percentage of loans issued by the group concerns Greek companies? In total, the bank’s loans to the business sector reach -16 billion, of which -10 billion concern «corporate loans,» i.e. for companies with a turnover of at least -2.5 million. The other loans have been issued to companies with lower turnover, served by the department we call SBB, or Small Business Banking. In total we have cooperated with 120,000 companies, the bulk of which are small private enterprises. As far as the over–2.5-million enterprises are concerned, we cooperate with 90 percent of them, but without including state companies. Which is your comparative advantage over your rivals in this intense competition at the corporate credit domain? We always strive to be ahead technologically and create innovative products and services. Sticking to rate lists would make no sense for us. Every year we present two or three new products while we upgrade those we have already promoted into the market. For instance, we have been issuing loans in foreign currencies for years, just like all other banks. Yet foreign currency loans that change at the flick of a button cannot be seen anywhere else. Could you tell us a little more about that? I am mostly referring to the «Eurobank Enallax» product, which is the new alternative and flexible form of corporate funding in euros or in foreign currencies (dollar, yen, Swiss franc or UK pound). With this product, clients can switch from one currency to another as often as they want to. For example if one has taken a loan of -10-million in dollars, he can switch 3 million of that into Swiss francs, then switch 2 million into yen and so on, to make the most of the foreign currency markets. You said you cooperate with 120,000 firms and with 90 percent of companies with turnover above -2.5 million. Is this sector saturated? How could you expand further in it? We very much believe in the extroversion of Greek enterprises, as they will only survive in the future if they are extroverted. We also see an improvement in the general economic environment since 2004 and 2005, when some companies were not doing very well. As a group we believe growth will continue in the next few years, not just for the 7,000 companies that are among the «big ones» that we have funded, but also for smaller enterprises. You spoke about extroversion and the prospect of growth from beyond the borders. To what extent does the group’s activity outside Greece contributes in Eurobank’s financial figures? The bank’s total loans issued came to -35 billion in 2006, from which -4 billion concerned Eastern European states (Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Ukraine and Serbia). Admittedly, their share in total loans issued to companies remains very small, but is gradually growing. The management aims at markets abroad contributing 30 percent in the group’s total revenues and 20 percent in its earnings by 2009.