Greece

Greek banks, among Europe’s weakest, are getting rid of their bad loans at a healthy clip. In spring, the pandemic interrupted plans among the country’s banks to shed loans still festering from the eurozone crisis a decade ago, The Wall Street Journal reported. But stimulus from central banks and governments globally has sent fresh cash into funds that buy non-performing loans, reinvigorating the efforts.

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The Greek government's opposition is trying to block new insolvency legislation that it argues would leave vulnerable mortgage holders more exposed to repossession during the pandemic, Yahoo! Finance reported. The conservative government is overhauling its bankruptcy regulations, replacing a protection program for distressed loans on primary homes, which expired in July, with a state subsidy program. The government says the proposed changes would be better targeted and would ease pressure on banks still coping with a mountain of loans left unpaid during years of financial crisis.

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Greece is the most vulnerable country in the Eurozone to a shock to tourism says DBRS Morningstar, Capital reported. According to the latest forecasts by DBRS, the recession in Greece this year will reach 7%, while the recovery in 2021 is expected to reach 4%. According to the DBRS’ adverse scenario, the contraction of the Greek GDP this year will come to 9% and growth in 2021 will move at a subdued rate of 1.5%.

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Greece’s conservative government has drafted a bill which overhauls its insolvency code, seeking to help over-indebted households and businesses make a fresh start after a crippling decade-long debt crisis, Reuters reported. More than 1 million individuals and 300,000 businesses owe money to banks and the state, legacy of a decade-long financial crisis that shrank the country’s economy by a quarter.

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Greece’s National Bank (NBG) has hired Morgan Stanley as an adviser ahead of a planned sale of more than 6.0 billion euros ($6.73 billion) of non-performing credit, part of its balance sheet clean-up efforts, bankers close to the transaction said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. NBG, Greece’s second-largest lender by assets, is aiming to begin talks with potential investors about offloading a portfolio of soured loans known as project Frontier in the second half of the year, they added.

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The economic pain for Greece may be similar to other southern European nations. The European Commission forecasts that Greek national income will shrink by 9.7% this year, compared with 9.5% in Italy and 9.4% in Spain, Bloomberg News reported in a commentary. The country is, however, expected to rebound more sharply in 2021, by 7.9%, compared with an expectation of 6.5% growth for Italy and 7% for Spain. Greece’s initial contraction — set to be the largest in the EU — is happening because the economy relies heavily on tourism. As foreigners stay at home, hotels and restaurants suffer.

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Some hedge funds that bet against a series of Greek and Italian companies are nursing losses after the European Union’s breakthrough plan for a 750 billion euro (£673 billion) recovery fund sent stock markets surging across southern Europe, Reuters reported. The funds, which include Citadel, Marshall Wace and AKO Capital, still hold short positions on companies such as Italy’s Banco BPM and Greece’s Piraeus Bank ahead of a June 18-19 EU summit to debate the recovery fund, aimed at helping European economies recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Eurobank has moved ahead of Greek peers in the drive to cut bad loan volumes after completing a deal with Italian debt recovery firm doValue, and is now focused on boosting lending, its chief executive told Reuters on Tuesday. Greek banks have been making headway in their bid to sell, write off or restructure billions of euros of soured loans accumulated during the last financial crisis, Reuters reported. The high level of non-performing exposures (NPEs) - about 40% of their loanbooks in March - constrains their ability to finance the country’s economic recovery.

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Piraeus Bank, Greece’s largest lender by assets, on Monday reported a first-quarter loss after “frontloading” loan impairment provisions to take into account the impact of the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported. Piraeus Bank, which is 26.2% owned by the country’s HFSF bank rescue fund, reported a net loss of 232 million euros ($258.08 million) compared with a net profit of 14 million euros in the same period a year earlier.

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Greek lawmakers approved a restructuring plan for Larco late on Wednesday which Greece called a last attempt to save Europe’s biggest nickel producer, Reuters reported. The European Commission said in November it was taking Greece to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over its failure to recover 135.8 million euros ($147.63 million) of illegal state aid to Larco which is struggling under heavy debt.

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