ECONOMY

Postal Savings Bank is getting ready for a big transformation

The government is scheduled to table legislation in the next two weeks which will pave the way for the Postal Savings Bank to become a societe anonyme company and upgrade into a financial institution, Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis said yesterday. He said the bill is in the final stage of ministerial approval and should be up for parliamentary discussion next month. It will set out the company statutes, ensure job security and pension rights for all current employees and provide a seat for staff members on the board of directors. Employees would also have the right to seek transfers to the public sector or regional authorities. Verelis said the Postal Savings Bank is also interested in cooperating with other financial institutions although it was too early to say what form this would take and in what areas until the bill becomes law. What was clear, however, is that «the State is not interested in selling the savings bank or finding a strategic investor,» he stressed. ‘Neighborhood bank’ Leonidas Theoklitos, deputy president at the savings bank, told Kathimerini English Edition that the bank is interested in the 17-percent stake in Bank of Attica held by Commercial Bank. The latter recently hired advisers to help it look into its options regarding the shareholding. The minister said the Postal Savings Bank, with its enviable customer base of 2.7 million, will continue to remain «a neighbourhood bank» even after its metamorphosis. Seeking to compete with the more conventional banks, the Postal Savings Bank has, in the meantime, taken steps to improve its range of products and upgrade its efficiency. Androniki Boumis, president of the savings bank, said the bank aims to launch products with higher returns such as guarantee capital products. The latest product, available to the public yesterday, is one-year repos for a minimum deposit of 15,000 euros and paying an interest rate of 3.25 percent. Interest rates for one-year time deposits and for six-monthly time deposits went up to 3.25 percent and 3.10 percent respectively yesterday from 2.75 percent and 2.80 percent, even as commercial banks bring theirs down. The savings bank is also due to set up a dealing room at its central offices and launch personal banking services. The recent deal with the Post Office will see the savings bank’s products rolled out in 23 of the latter’s outlets shortly. There are also moves to offer online services at both organizations. The savings bank also plans to instal 50 ATMs nationwide by September and outfit the rest of its network next year. The savings bank had excellent results last year, Verelis said. Net profits soared by 235 percent to 214.2 million euros, deposits increased by 9.45 percent to 9 billion euros and loans rose by 19.98 percent to 1.45 billion euros.