Dec 2019 National Bank of Greece (NBG), the most trusted bank in Greece
Prisma Reports talks to Mr. Pavlos Mylonas, CEO, National Bank of Greece
“The macroeconomic climate of Greece has improved significantly. We have successfully completed the program agreed with the creditors, and we now have a new government that is very investor-friendly. This should help us to attract investments, which so far has been the missing piece in our country’s growth story.
To attract investments, we need to take advantage of the low interest rate environment, as well as the sharp decline in real estate land value.
Liquidity has returned to the market, and the loan to deposit ratio is near 100. The problem of deposits leaving the banks, and banks not having liquidity, is a problem of the past. Capital controls were lifted because clearly everyone thought that liquidity was no longer an issue.
We’re seeing significant movement on the NPE front over the past six months: the economy is doing better, unemployment is going down, real estate prices are going up, which all leads to better repayment and performance. Investors lately have been far more optimistic in our ability to clean up NPEs.
NBG currently has the highest ratio of provisions, with a cash provision to NPE ratio of 60%.
With all these positive macroeconomic indicators and the new laws, we will be able to increasingly securitize our loans by 2020. That’s the strategy: quick sale of the loans that are not going to be our future customers and do the securitization in the near future.
NBG has the quality of being the most trusted bank in Greece. Moreover, we are #1 in Greece in disbursements this year, mostly on the corporate side and structured finance. NBG also has the cheapest cost of funding, and holds 35% of the saving accounts on the Greek market.
We have started a major transformation about a year ago and are putting the new strategy in place, but this is not going to happen overnight. The bank will address all its legacy problems as well as face the digital challenges increasingly through a new customer centric culture.
We have done significant cost cutting as we have reduced our headcount by almost 15% over the past 12 months. We have proceeded with branch closures: from around 540 we are down at 319, and we have reduced our general expenses by more than 10%.
We are the most advanced bank in Greece in terms of APIs.
What’s key in an economy is not the number of start-ups, but the number of start-ups that go to the next stage. That’s where we can help as banks, getting the firms from the start-up to the more mature stage, with more critical mass.
Greece has potential as an energy hub, which is an area where we expect huge investments. We need to shift away from lignite. The Prime Minister’s plan is to move further towards gas and renewable energy by 2028 – this will be a huge transition, and will require lots of investments.
The US market still thinks that we are a problem economy, and needs to be educated regarding the progress achieved recently. In the event, we just need to make the country attractive, whether for American investors or Japanese, or Chinese.
CEO, National Bank of Greece
NBG Webiste: www.nbg.gr