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Daily Press Review – 15/5/2019

Time for changes in banks’ personnel
Kathimerini reports that the banks will now focus on the crucial matter of labour relations, given that they have resolved their management issues. Their goal is to reduce their costs with various measures, including the reduction of staff. The cost-revenue ratio of Hellenic Bank amounts to 70%, while Bank of Cyprus’ stands at 56%. In the framework of the measures, voluntary retirement schemes are expected to follow, branches will close, staff will be transferred to other positions, and many others. The intentions of the banks have been clear for quite some time and they have been expressed by the Chairmen and CEOs of the banks. At the same time, they call on the unions to cooperate and contribute to the exploitation of the new potential for employment and salary benefits. Sooner or later, the banks will potentially proceed to establish a ‘common front’ in order to tackle the labour challenges of the local banking sector, sources report. The article reports that the banks have settled their management issues with Bank of Cyprus selecting a new CEO and selling of a large NPLs portfolio and Hellenic Bank successfully completing its share capital increase. This means that the banks will now focus on matters of personnel. The article reports that the CEO of Hellenic Bank, after the bank’s 2018 results were released, said that the bank is ready to give raises to its employees. The article also reports that while Hellenic Bank does not intend to implement a voluntary retirement scheme, the Bank of Cyprus is expected to do so.

Auditor-General expects guidelines by House Watchdog Committee for KEDIPES
The Audit Service of the Republic is waiting for guidelines by the members of the House Watchdog Committee, as it comes to the extent of the probe the service will conduct, as it comes to sale of 845 Co-op properties. According to the information that KEDIPES sent to the House, 531 properties were sold from 2016 until Autumn 2018, when the Co-op was given to Hellenic Bank. Furthermore, after the Co-op-Hellenic deal, another 314 properties were sold, which were under the administration of KEDIPES. This information includes the names of the buyers, with some of them being party members, Co-op board members, developer firms and municipalities. The Auditor-General, Odysseas Michaelides told Phieleleftheros, that the service is in possession of the information on the sold off Co-op property. He also said that the service will coordinate with the members of the House Watchdog Committee in order to clarify the extent and the type of investigation that will be carried out. As it comes to the audit that the service will conduct for the NPLs of politically exposed persons (PEPs), the Service is waiting for the expert opinion of the Legal Service. KEDIPES has not given any information to the Audit Service, invoking the banking secrecy obligations.

Demetra posts €5.3 profit in first quarter of 2019
Demetra Investment Ltd has recorded €5.381.600 in profits, in the first quarter of 2019, compared to the €1m losses it recorded in the same period in 2018. According to the Group’s results, the profit has resulted from the Group’s investment in equity in the Cyprus Stock Exchange. As such, the net internal value of each share of the Company increased from 61.88 cents on 31 December 2018, to 64.58 cents in 31 March 2019, recording a 4.4% increase. Specifically, the Group’s investments in equity in CSE and abroad, recorded €5.49m in profits, compared with €1m losses in the corresponding quarter of 2018. Revenue from interest recorded an increase, amounting to €60.205 compared with €92.164. This reduction is mainly due to the reduction of deposits and the reduction of interest rates. The article goes on to report that after Hellenic Bank’s share capital increase procedure, Demetra Investment had a total of 76.059.106 shares in the Bank (18.42% of the Bank’s equity). However, yesterday’s deal with EBRD, changed the Bank’s shareholding structure once again, with Demetra Investment being the largest shareholder of the bank with 21%.

Debt-to-asset swaps the most popular tool for banks
Debt-to-asset swaps, is still the most popular tool for banks in an effort to recover debt. The article reports that Bank of Cyprus and Hellenic Bank proceeded to carry out transactions amounting to over €50m. Specifically, the Bank of Cyprus has proceeded to transactions for property worth €30m in the first quarter of 2019, while Hellenic Bank has recorded transactions with a total indicative value €16.1m. Bank of Cyprus’s REMU especially, has been turned into an estate agent, managing properties of accounting €1.54b.

BoC announces significant NPL sales
Josef Ackermann and John Patrick Hourican announced important selloffs of NPLs, in Bank of Cyprus’ Annual General Meeting. At the same time, the sent a message to the bank employees’ unions that the Bank intends to expedite the implementation of its digital transformation as well as look into way to streamline its cost. He added that even though the banks has made a lot of progress, the project they have taken up has not been fully completed, while new challenges are emerging.

CSA Appeal to Parliament about Larnaca port
The Cyprus Shipping Association (CSA) has requested the Parliamentary Committee for an urgent intervention, concerning the outside of competition process of “direct negotiation” for the assignment of the work referred as “Development of the Larnaca port and marina area” to individuals of the private sector. They claimed that despite their intense requests, the Ministry of Transport neglected to inform the directly involved parties, about their intentions and plans, which only increased CSA’s concerns. They raise questions about the legality of the procedure, and they ask that the competition is now cancelled.

MSJ Group: celebrating 75 years in healthcare sector
Michalakis S. Iacovides opened his first pharmacy in May of 1944, and this year the MSJ Group is celebrating their 75 years of successful activity in the healthcare sector. This significant anniversary of 75 years of service, was celebrated by the management and executives of all the companies within the group, at a gala dinner held in the Radisson Blue Hotel, on 10 May.

Increasing paediatrician registrations in GHS
The number of paediatrician registrations within GHS continues to rise. Up until now, there are 334 adult general practitioners (GPs), and 72 paediatricians. However, there 15 applications are still in progress, thus when completed that number will reach 87. The HIO expects that that number will soon increase. Sources report that Cyprus Medical Association (CyMA) contacted the Health Minister directly, and clarified that medical associations will not go to meetings on their own, but everything will go through the CyMA.