Antonis Rouvas: Zero tolerance to strategic defaulters

Hellenic Bank will show zero tolerance to strategic defaulters who attempt to exploit the system, the bank's Interim CEO Antonis Rouvas has said.

Speaking to InBusinessNews, Rouvas referred to the recently passed NPL and foreclosures framework and reiterated the bank’s call to truly vulnerable customers to visit the bank and find mutually agreeable solutions.

“Our goal is to protect our vulnerable clients, but at the same time show zero tolerance to strategic defaulters who attempt to exploit the system,” said Rouvas.

Asked to comment on the Cypriot bank sector’s performance in 2023, HB’s interim CEO said it once again proved its resilience, recording good results despite acute challenges arising from international geopolitical and economic developments.

Regarding Hellenic in particular, Rouvas said its good performance carried through to the third quarter of the year, when it recorded a profit after tax of €204.7m.

He said this was thanks to increased revenue from interest on deposits and securities held at the Central Bank, the European Central Bank’s increased interest rates, as well as reduced costs resulting from HB's 2022 voluntary redundancy scheme.

“The bank’s results highlight the resilience of its business model, which has also been acknowledged by the international rating agencies, what with Moody’s as well as Fitch upgrading Hellenic Bank’s credit rating to Baa3 and BB+ respectively, placing it in investment grade,” said Rouvas.

Prepared against potential threats

Nonetheless, he added, Hellenic remains vigilant against potential threats that could affect its performance, brought on from challenges in the financial and operational environment, the increasing interest rates, high inflation and geopolitical unrest.

In a difficult period of economic uncertainty, Hellenic Bank’s balance sheet remains strong with a Total Capital Ratio of approximately 27.4% - significantly higher than the regulatory requirements – and a Liquidity Coverage Ratio of 506%, said Rouvas.

These results make it possible for the bank to continue to support its customers in 2024, providing competitive and customised banking and insurance products, he added.

Concluding, Hellenic’s Interim CEO pointed out: “We continue to finance the growth of the Cypriot economy, having already, in the first nine months of 2023, granted fresh loans totalling €900m.”

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