After almost a decade, the world’s lender of last resort is ready to leave Greece for good, Bloomberg News reported. For a while there, Europe’s most indebted nation had everyone worried this Mediterranean holiday destination was going to bring on the collapse of the euro. Its ups and downs had the market gyrating. Then came the biggest bailout in global financial history. The International Monetary Fund led the effort to save Greece from itself. At the beginning of the 10-year crisis in Greece, the Washington-based institution had asked for a restructuring of country’s debt.
After a decade-long debt crisis that made Greece a bond-market pariah, the country now enjoys the luxury of having no financing needs for 2020. Yet the government’s 2020 budget shows it still plans to sell new debt, Bloomberg News reported. Despite a cash buffer of some 32 billion euros ($35.6 billion) left over from the country’s bailout program, Greece wants to maintain the good momentum of 2019 after yields hit record low levels in October.
Eurozone bond yields rose on Wednesday after more upbeat European economic data helped offset some of the anxiety about a new Brexit cliff-edge that boosted demand for safe-haven government debt a day earlier, The Trust Project reported. Investors have been dumping eurozone government debt for riskier assets in recent weeks on signs the economy is rebounding and in anticipation of an agreement on the first phase of a trade deal between Washington and Beijing. Read more
Greek jeweler Folli Follie has reached a preliminary deal with some of its creditors over a rescue plan for the company, it said late on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Folli has struggled to pay suppliers and workers and keep its business going since a hedge fund report in May last year questioned its accounting. Its shares have since been suspended, and the company has been fined by Greece’s securities watchdog. The firm published delayed audited financial statements for 2017 in July that showed it had overstated annual revenue by more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).
Alpha Bank on Tuesday reported lower third-quarter profits after higher bad debt provisions and said it would launch a big securitisation of soured loans to clean up its balance sheet, Reuters reported. Alpha, 11% owned by the country’s bank rescue fund HFSF, reported net profit from continuing operations of 4.8 million euros after net earnings of 59.4 million euros in the second quarter. Provisions for bad debt rose 6.3% quarter-on-quarter to 261.5 million euros.
Greece’s Eurobank said on Thursday it was selling two real estate portfolios worth a combined 84 million euros (£72 million) to Brook Lane Capital and plans to put a third portfolio up for sale, Reuters reported. Eurobank, which is 2.4% owned by Greece’s HFSF bank rescue fund after being bailed out during the country’s debt crisis, repossessed most of the properties, residential and commercial, after loan defaults. The bank, Greece’s third largest lender by assets, said it wanted to focus on other property assets on its books.
Even in a record-breaking year for global bond markets, Greece stands out. As recently as 2012, investors decided the country’s debt load had spiralled out of control and refused to lend to Athens at any cost, the Financial Times reported. Now, after a rally that has bewildered many observers, investors pay Greece to borrow on short-term debt. Ten-year bond yields trade at 1.2 per cent — well below the equivalent borrowing cost for the US government.
Greece has lost the dubious distinction of being the riskiest government borrower in the eurozone after its bond yields dipped below Italy’s for the first time since 2008, the Financial Times reported. Greek bonds have staged a powerful rally this year as investors hungry for yields have snapped up debt from former euro area crisis spots — a trend that gained further momentum after Standard & Poor’s upgraded Athens’ credit rating to BB- late last month.
Nikolaos Karamouzis has honed his knowledge of Greece’s crisis-stricken economy over more than three decades in finance and perhaps sees investment opportunities where others fear to tread, Bloomberg News reported. The former banker is putting together a fund to invest in some of the struggling small and medium-sized enterprises that still play a critical role in the Greek economy, providing six out of 10 jobs -- twice the European Union average. Many are weighed down by soured loans but Karamouzis believes some retain significant potential if money is targeted in the right places.