Banks push for rent reduction

The country’s commercial property market is one of the first sectors to be hit by the global financial crisis as banks renegotiate property rental agreements in a bid to cut costs. One senior bank official said yesterday his bank had renegotiated the agreement for 30 branches in a bid to cut the monthly rental charges by up to 30 percent. «Only two property owners did not accept the reductions in rent, so we will move to new offices given that supply is currently high,» the source said. As financial turmoil shakes investor and consumer confidence around the world, credit growth in Greece has started to slow with the biggest drop off seen in mortgage growth. Greek banks have embarked on cost-cutting measures to offset the reductions in income. According to figures provided by the Hellenic Bank Association, there are just over 3,800 bank branches across Greece, with around 1,500 located in the broader Athens area.