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Daily Press Review – 11/9/2019

The Co-op to officially close, Hellenic remains

This coming Friday will be the last day that the Co-op’s system is in operation and the process for the integration of the Co-op into Hellenic Bank will be finalised on 16 September. This will occur with the transfer of the clients of the former Co-op and their accounts in Hellenic’s systems. All the clients will now be fully served by the branches of the Bank, through its online channels and the ATMs of Hellenic Bank. As it was presented this summer, the clients will be able to deposit cheques and cash in the ATMs or transfer money to their credit card as well as make transfers of up to €1000 through Web Banking and the web app to Cypriot and European banks, for free. As the Communications Manager of Hellenic Bank, Giorgos Sklavos told Kathimerini, as it comes to the account numbers of the clients, the current numbers will remain in place and the integration will not affect the transactions, while all current automatic and permanent orders that are already in place at the former Co-op, will be transferred to Hellenic’s systems and will be valid as normal. Furthermore, as it has been stressed, remittances from other banks or government services as well as salary and GMI payments will continue as normal. This means that no other action on the part of the clients is needed, even though on Friday 13 September, the name former Co-op will officially expire. Among other things, the change of a client’s account, will also result in a change in its IBAN and BIC, without however, having an effect on transactions. The previous IBAN and BIC numbers will be valid and be operating simultaneously. The new IBAN, as Mr Sklavos explained, will appear in the monthly account statement that will be sent from 16/9/2019 onwards. Specifically, the new BIC will be HEBACY2N, and will be used with the new account. As it comes to receiving remittances, this will continue as normal but the Bank suggests that the clients inform their associates and the senders of the remittances about their new IBAN number. For any new orders, it was suggested that the new IBAN must given from the beginning. The same goes for chequebooks. The current chequebooks will be valid until they are completely used, while the chequebooks ordered by the clients after 16/9/2019, will be issued with the new account number of the client. As it comes to Hellenic’s Web Banking or the Mobile App, subscribers will be able to use it from 16/9/2019 onwards. The Communications Manager of the Bank noted that initially, the clients have to sign in to the former Co-op’s iBanking account, like they usually did and then the system will guide them through the step-by-step process and they will not need to visit any branch. Finally, the accounts, credit cards, loans, deposits and joint accounts of the clients will be transferred and will be visible in Hellenic’s Web Banking and Mobile App.

 

 

Loans that were sold to Funds left out of ESTIA

The borrowers whose loans were sold to credit acquisition companies that don’t take part in ESTIA, are rather unlucky. Even if they were eligible to join ESTIA, the sale of their loans resulted in them being removed from the list of benefiting borrowers. According to the readers, some cannot enjoy the privileges provided by the state. The people who had NPLs and were sold to APS, B2Kapital Cyprus and CAC Coral cannot benefit from the state subsidy. On 25 September 2018, CAC Coral was given permission to acquire the NPLs of the National Bank of Greece (Cyprus). According to sources, the customers were notified about the changes with letters. The first company that acquired an NPL portfolio amounting to €145m, was B2Kapital which proceeded to acquire an NPL portfolio from Hellenic Bank in the start of 2018. APS bought from BoC, a small portfolio of uninsured NPLs valued at €33.7m. It should be noted that the Ministry, estimates that the loans that these companies have purchased do not have an important number of housing loans and that most of them terminated loans.

 

3+1 concerns that put evaluations on “ice”

Cyprus has been put on “ice” by rating firms. Since the beginning of 2019, they have avoided evaluating the country’s creditworthiness, despite the successful debt issuances it proceeded to within the year, the reduction in unemployment and a surplus amounting to €700m. On Friday, the rating firm “Standards and Poor’s” avoided an evaluation of Cyprus for a second time this year and only prepared a synopsis of the economic climate of Cyprus, stressing at the same time its “open wounds”. It’s not only S&P that looks at the Cypriot economy with a look of expectation, as Moody’s, which evaluates Cyprus on 20 September, will also proceed with a “synopsis” or an “academic report”. We cannot say however that the firms have a negative disposition. Since the beginning of the year, there are so many open chapters about Cyprus’ economy, which can completely change its situation. This is the reason why the Firms, have not proceeded to an evaluation that they may reverse 6 months later. The year started with lawsuits filed by the public employees against the state and their demands for an immediate reinstatement of its salaries and benefits. After the “fiscal bomb” that may occur because of this, the House of Representatives decided to change the foreclosures law. Finally, the banker’s message to foreign investors, rating agencies and debtors that the law delays and hinders foreclosures, apparently reached their receivers. In addition, NPLs are a permanent open wound for the Cypriot economy. However, Cyprus has demonstrated progress, as it sold the Co-op, BoC sold a large NPL portfolio to the investment fund of Apollo and thirdly, it created a state “bad bank”. The two biggest banks of the island, BoC and Hellenic are now in the process of selling large NPLs packages and the Firms are anticipating these developments. The article also reports that as it comes to loans sales, Bloomberg said that in August, Pimco made an offer to purchase €1.5b NPLs from Hellenic Bank.

 

New ship with refugees

The Italian authorities did not allow ‘Alan Kurdi’ to enter the country’s territorial waters shortly after three more immigrants aboard the ship, landed in Malta. The German non-governmental organization Sea-Eye which has chartered the ship has posted on its Twitter account the message of the Italian Coast Guard with which entrance of the ship is banned  in its territorial waters, citing a recent Italian law of former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

 

How a no-deal Brexit will affect us: CCCI advice to businesses

The no deal- Brexit scenario calls for businesses to be prepared when Britain leaves the EU on 31 October.  Businesses, in particular the CCCI, are seeking to update their members in order to be prepared by the date of withdrawal which is currently November 1, 2019 when the United Kingdom will become third country.  A circular posted on the Insider business portal by CCCI refers to issues regarding import-e products, customs duties, customs procedures, certifications, approvals, etc.

 

The way has opened up for LNG

The deadline expired without recourse at the Bidding Review Authority against DEFA’s decision to approve the proposal of the Chinese-Greek-Norwegian consortium interested in the infrastructure projects in Vasilikos for the de-gasification of natural gas. This means that DEFA is free to sign contracts and assign jobs to the contractors, so that by the end of 2021, we have gas for electric power.

 

Construction boom in Zakaki

Another construction project is planned in Zakaki, where a construction boom is already underway, due to the construction of the casino-resort and other large-scale projects. The environmental authority published yesterday an application for a mixed housing and commercial project with two multi-story buildings and ten villas, in the community of Tserkezi in Limassol. The project is promoted by the company AnSky Gardens Ltd. According to an Impact Assessment Study, that has already been submitted to the environmental authority, the project will be comprised of two apartment buildings of 14 stories each, 10 villas and 4 shops. Each building has 101 apartments, pools, 202 parking positions, common spaces and basements. The 10 villas will have three bedrooms and their own pool. The proposed project will be close to the Zakaki community and will be located in close proximity to My Mall Limassol. According to the Impact Assessment Study, the area where the project will be developed, will include many important and large-scale projects, that have already been licensed.

 

GHS doctors break their silence

Phileleftheros reports that 3 months after the implementation of the GHS, doctors registered to the system finally broke their silence and officially intervened in the on-going discussion regarding preparations in view of the introduction of inpatient healthcare. They have submitted their own proposal with 6 suggestions, and they can readily discuss it in “good faith” with the HIO and the MoH. During their last meeting with the HIO, they emphasised that they do not accept the establishment of different classes of either doctors or patients. In a lengthy statement, they record the problems they have encountered over these past 3 months, mostly on a practical level, and suggest possible solutions for the overall improvement of the GHS. The Association of Private Doctors that joined the GHS, is in constant communication with the HIO and the Health Minister, and according to Phileleftheros’ sources, many of the association’s suggestions reached the HIO, and they’ve either been adopted and implemented, or their implementation has already started. Strengthening the GP institution, improving the system’s software, establishing control mechanisms to avoid abuse and introducing protocols are some of the doctors’ suggestions, who in their statement highlighted “if logic is used, and each one of us contributes their part without fanaticism or intension for conflict, then the dream of generations for a comprehensive GHS may come true.”

 

Leave the GHS’ character unaltered

Following patients’ rights groups, the unions PEO and SEK expressed their concerns that the character of the GHS would be altered. Concern surrounds the scheduled meeting which will take place tomorrow, between the President of the Republic with private doctors and hospitals regarding their proposal for the GHS. In a recent meeting between the President and the Patients’ rights group, he reassured them that the GHS will remain a single-payer health system. PEO is carefully monitoring developments in view of the second phase of implementation of the GHS, and they said that they will not hesitate, if needed, to react to measures that will alter the GHS. In their announcement, SEK asked the President to continue to support the GHS and reject any pressure to change the system’s philosophy.

 

The second big step

The second big step for the GHS is imminent, and that is the integration of private hospitals to the GHS, something that will greatly improve healthcare services for beneficiaries. The first step was the integration of many doctors in the GHS (both GPs and specialists), in order to cover the beneficiaries’ needs. However, next June when the second phase begins, which will include inpatient care, it’s of the utmost importance that private hospitals join the GHS, given that state hospitals are expected not to be able to cover the needs of the beneficiaries. Until recently, private hospitals, through their association, kept a strict and inflexible attitude on this subject. However, many doctors of private hospitals joined the GHS since almost all of the population of Cyprus registered in the system. More recently, private hospitals abandoned their strict attitude and began discussions with GHS/HIO authorities about their integration in the GHS, given that they will be given additional financial incentives. Tomorrow Thursday, the President will meet with representatives of private hospitals/doctors, and their meeting will be a determining factor.

 

Medicines cocktail may turn out to be the elixir of life

American scientists now believe that for the first time, they have made people biologically younger, thanks to an experimental medicine cocktail, that reverses the aging process. 9 healthy volunteers aged 51-65 were given a 1-year-long medicine regime and by the end of their trial, their biological age was 2,5 years younger than what it was when they first began. The medication included a developmental hormone and two antidiabetic drugs (DHEA and metformin).