(Bloomberg) — The Bank of Greece will likely submit a plan to the government by the end of the month to help the country’s lenders clear most non-performing loans from their balance sheets.
“Probably before the end of the month, the Bank of Greece is going to unveil its own proposal for the creation of a bad bank” Alex Patelis, chief economic adviser to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said at a virtual event organized by the Athens Stock Exchange. “We ‘re obviously going to study it very carefully, and take it from there.”
Greece’s huge stock of non-performing loans — 60.9 billion euros ($72 billion) as of the end of March — is a legacy of the decade-long debt crisis which led to a roughly 25% cumulative drop in economic output.
Though the value of the country’s bad loans is significantly down from its March 2016 peak of about 107 billion euros, Greece still has the worst soured-loans ratio among European Union member states.
Greek lenders have pledged to bring the ratio down to the European average by the end of 2021, and banks have already begun using the government’s so-called Hercules plan, designed to help them package loans into securities with partial state guarantees.
The program is expected to help lenders trim soured debt by over a half, according to Patelis. Even at that point, though, Greek banks would have a high NPL ratio, after also taking into account the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
“A bad bank is not in itself a bad or a good thing,” Patelis said. “The devil is always in the details.”
The Bank of Greece has hired Rothschild & Co., Boston Consulting Group Inc.and Deloitte LLP to advise on the bad-bank plan.
The aim of the program will be to help lenders cut bad debt and at the same time handle deferred tax credits that account for more than half of their capital.
The Athens-based central bank has said that existing bank structures will be strengthened rather than overturned, with third parties participating in management of bad loans. Any losses associated with soured credits will be exclusively covered by the lenders and not by taxpayers, up to the minimum capital adequacy ratio limit.