Greece

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The euro zone's rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, agreed on Monday to allow Greece to pay back earlier some of its debt to the International Monetary Fund, the ESM said in a statement, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. The move, which concerns loans worth around 2.7 billion euros (2.3 billion pounds), allows Athens to reduce its debt-servicing costs, because IMF loans carry higher interest than Greece would now pay on the market.

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Standard & Poor’s raised Greece’s sovereign credit rating by one notch, signaling confidence in the country’s new government and its policies. Coming 16 months after it last upgraded Greece’s rating, S&P said in a statement Friday that it is raising the country’s long-term foreign currency debt to BB- from B+. The ratings agency’s outlook remains positive. Still, the new rating keeps Greece three levels below junk, showing that the country has to do more to regain its investment-grade rating, Bloomberg News reported.

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The Greek government has set out its blueprint for helping the country’s banks reduce a 75 billion euro ($83 billion) pile of toxic debt left over from the last recession, Bloomberg News reported. The plan aims to speed up sales of non-performing loans by Greek lenders, repackaging them into securities with the state guaranteeing the safest portions. It’s based on a model used in Italy but unlike that program, the safest tranches of Greece’s NPLs will have a BB- rating -- three steps into junk territory.

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Greek jewelry maker Folli Follie’s Links of London appointed Deloitte as an administrator on Wednesday, putting about 350 jobs at risk and adding to the list of high-profile retailers to run into trouble on Britain’s high street, Reuters reported. Links of London was founded in 1990, offering unisex jewelry and lifestyle accessories, with luxury products designed after London’s art, music, and film scenes at the time. Links of London said on its website it was unable to process any online sales, but directed people to its stores.

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