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Daily Press Review – 12/12/2019

BoC and Hellenic loans amount to €2.17b

Bank of Cyprus and Hellenic Bank granted new loans of €2.17b in the first 9 months of 2019, at a time when interest rates are at a low record and banks have high liquidity. Banks find it difficult to find viable borrowers for news loans, since a large number of individuals and many businesses already have non-performing loans. According to the nine month results, there is interest in the sectors that each bank has already given loans out. For Q3, 2019 Bank of Cyprus gave out new loans of €491m and €1.6b for the nine months of 2019. All new loans approved by Hellenic Bank in the nine-month period of 2019 totalled €572.5m (in 2018 €594m ). In the business sector, they gave out new loans amounting to €268m. €128m of these loans were granted to big business and €140m to smaller businesses. As it comes to retail banking, the new loans that Hellenic Bank gave out were €215m and €90m new loans were given to the category “other lending”. According to Hellenic’s announcement, the Bank continued giving out loans to solvent businesses and households while at the same time looking into more opportunities for development. Gross loans to clients on 30 September amounted to €7.363m down by 4% compared to €7.636m on 31 December 2018. Over the first 9 months of 2019, loans amounting to €190.3m were written off (2018: €149m) of which €127.5m relate to unconventional write-offs. The Bank’s loan market share on 30 September amounted to 21.1% (31 December 2018: €19.5m).

 

Central Bank preparing supervisory framework for credit acquiring companies

The Cypriot authorities have proceeded with enhancing the regulatory and supervisory framework for credit acquiring companies (CAC), since more and more NPLs are being transferred outside the banking sector, going to CACs. The Central Bank of Cyprus is preparing a new regulatory and supervision framework for CACs, in recognition of the fact that CACs are acquiring an increasing portfolio of NPLs, the IMF has said in a report it issued yesterday. Already, the loans that were transferred to CACs through NPLs portfolios exceed the red loans that are remain in the banking system. According to the latest information by CBC, NPLs amounted to €9.7b in the end of the June, while according to the transactions that were completed up until now, the book value of NPLs exceeds €10b. With the NPLs in CACs amounting to about 50% of the GDP, the continuous enhancement of the CACs’ regulatory framework and the close monitoring of the assets is important, the IMF said in its report. It should be noted that Greece is already publishing data about its management progress for NPLs that remain in the banking system. According to the latest information, there are 7 licensed CACs in Cyprus: SEDIPES (KEDIPES), Gordian Holdings, CYMC III, CAC Coral Ltd, B2Kapital Cyprus Ltd and APS Loan Management. However, according to the IMF, the Cypriot NPLs market is still at its early stages with the first significant NPL sale being completed in 2018, while NPLs sales in other European countries that faced a banking crisis such as Ireland, Italy and Spain had already begun since 2014. According to the IMF, between 2018 and 2019, 7 deals worth a total €10b were completed compared to €205b worth of deals in the European NPLs market. The biggest deal concerned the NPL portfolio transfer to KEDIPES, followed by Bank of Cyprus (Helix project) with the sale of a €2.6b NPLs portfolio. The remaining sales were completed by smaller subsidiary banks such as Alpha Bank and the National Bank of Greece (Cyprus). At the same time, it is expected that NPLs outside the banking sector will increase even more, as Cyprus’ two biggest banks, Bank of Cyprus and Hellenic Bank are planning new NPLs sales that accumulatively will likely exceed €4b with a view to reduce the NPLs to total loans ratio to below 10%, the IMF reports.

 

For “Unique Smiles”

OMEGA and the Electricity Authority of Cyprus, are organising a charity show to support the Cypriot foundation, “Unique Smiles” for the whole month of December. In the framework of the channel’s corporate social responsibility is standing by the side of young children suffering from rare genetic conditions. Citizens can contribute with any sum they wish by depositing in the bank account of Hellenic with number 135-10 673991-01. A charity show called “Ela Na Deis”, is coming on Monday, 23 December to give smiles to the young kids hospitalised at the Paediatric Oncology Clinic of Makarios Hospital.

 

Opportunities for partnerships

A business forum held on Tuesday in Athens organised by KEVE, the Cyprus-Greece Business Association and the Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce with the support of the Cypriot Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry and Enterprise Europe Network unveiled the prospects for cooperation between Greek and Cypriot businesses in the shipping sector and the investment funds sector. The business forum was held at EVEA’s building in Athens and the head of the Central Bank Constantinos Herodotou made recommendations, as did the Chairman of the Cyprus-Greece Business Association, also representing KEVE, Iosif Iosif and the general secretary of the Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce, Panayiotis Agniades. Two panel discussions were held as part of the forum, with experts form the two countries who spoke about the investment funds sector and shipping. The speakers of the two panels described the situation in the two sectors in Cyprus and Greece and referred to their prospects. All of them stressed that there is great potential for partnerships between the businesses of the two countries. They also organised tete-a-tete meetings between the businesses where they discussed the details of their cooperation. The Cypriot companies who participated in the forums are the following:  7Q Asset Management Ltd, A.SE.C Emilianides, C Katsaros, S Associates LLC, A Chr.Theophilou LLC, AMF Global Limited Aristodemou Loizides Yiolitis LLC Avantioum Corporate Services Ltd Bank of Cyprus BMKS limited C.X Financial Ltd Centaur Trust Christodoulos Vassiliades LLC Coral Shipmanagement Ltd, Cydris Fund Services Ltd, Eurobank Cyprus, F.C.I Financial Consultants International Ltd, Fiduserve Management Ltd, FMW Financial Media Way, Hanseatic Capital Management, Hellenic Bank, Shipping Centre, KPMG Ltd, N Savvides Zannetou LLC, Nasos A Kyriakides and Partners LLC, Pelagias Christodoulou Vrachas LLC, Prevention at Sea Ltd, PWC Cyprus, Royal Pine & Association, Salamis Lines Ltd, και Marios Κ Mitsides LLC.

 

New vacancies at Hellenic Bank

Hellenic Bank has announced new vacancies. These are: 1.  Quality Assurance Automated Test Engineer with expiry date: 31/12/2019; 2. Software Engineer Back-End with Expiry date: 31/12/2019;
3.  Customer Contact Centre Officer (Temporary Employment) with expiry date: 20/12/2019 4.  Analyst/Programmer with expiry date: 19/12/2019; 5.  Scrum Master with expiry date: 19/12/2019; 6.  Analyst/Programmer (Middleware Platform) with expiry date: 27/12/2019

 

JCC is being checked

DIKO and the Green party submitted an amending bill similar to last year, so as to earmark 50% of the €5m that will cover JCC’s commission for the charges by government departments with credit and debit cards. The amendment also stipulates the written consent of the House Finance Committee before any payment is made. With DISY’s initiative however, 75% of this amount was unilaterally earmarked with Neophytou arguing that the government needs to renegotiate the deal they have with JCC, because it used to be a monopoly. He added that JCC’s shareholders are banks. “Today, there are many and more options and in case of a new tender, a new deal may be more cost effective for the state”, Neophytou said.

 

CIFA: Cyprus a destination for investment funds

The latest statistical information by CySEC prove that Cyprus’ investment funds sector is growing and that the country has been established as an international centre for the licensing of such funds, the new Chairman of CIFA, Andreas Yiasemides has said. Specifically, the Total Assets Under Management recorded a 12% increase in the third quarter of 2019 compared to the second quarter of 2019, amounting to €7.7 billion. At the same time, UCIs, managed by the Management Companies, had a Net Asset Value (NAV) of €5.6 billion.

 

Bill puts an end to privatisations

The House halted the government’s plans for privatisations, approving – by a majority vote – the termination of all budget lines related to denationalisations/privatisations of state organisations and government businesses, government departments and services except for the development of the Limassol port and the Larnaca marina as well as the development of Troodos, the Cyprus Stock Exchange as well as any other action related to the Solidarity Fund. The bill was submitted by AKEL, DIKO, Citizens’ Alliance and the Green Party and concerns all budget lines that are included in the budget and relate to privatisations.

 

A framework for semi-governmental organisations

The IMF report evaluating Cyprus revealed the government’s opinion on the ways they will tackle the challenges recorded in the report. On the fiscal front, what stands out is the government’s intention to make the leadership of semi-governmental organisations stricter and more technocratic. The promotion of privatisations or the introduction of a strategic investor, with a simultaneous administrative concession is a rather removed scenario as there will not be a parliamentary majority to pass the relevant bills. The alternative scenario is modernising the way that state enterprises operate. The continuous effort to reform the state enterprises including the recent adoption of a code of conduct and a plan that connects state enterprises with strategic plans, with a three-year budget could contribute to improving performance, the IMF says reporting on the opinions of the Cypriot authorities. The IMF notes that the management of state enterprises could be enhanced with greater internal controls as it comes to financial management. Furthermore, the IMF asks the enhancement of the governance of state enterprises and the rejuvenation of the privatisation effort so as to increase the financial performance and limit the state’s obligations.

 

New development project at Akrotiri bay

Yesterday, the first step was taken towards another major project in the wider area where the casino is being built in Limassol, with the issuance of an environmental opinion for the separation of 78 plots, paving the way for the construction of residential units and offices. The proposed land is private and is part of the residential and office development zone, and in the north borders with the upcoming project, ‘City of Dreams Mediterranean – Integrated Casino Resort’. It is located northeast of ‘My Mall’, south of ‘Akrotiri Forest’ and west of the proposed golf course development and the ‘Limassol Greens Golf Resort’. The new Limassol Port is only 500m away, while the Akrotiri Salt Lake is 700m away from the proposed project. The project’s developer is ‘Cyprus Phassouri (Zakaki) Ltd’ a member of ‘CNS Group’.

 

Opportunities for partnerships

A business forum held on Tuesday in Athens organised by KEVE, the Cyprus-Greece Business Association and the Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce with the support of the Cypriot Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry and Enterprise Europe Network unveiled the prospects for cooperation between Greek and Cypriot businesses in the shipping sector and the investment funds sector. The business forum was held at EVEA’s building in Athens and the head of the Central Bank Constantinos Herodotou made recommendations, as did the Chairman of the Cyprus-Greece Business Association, also representing KEVE, Iosif Iosif and the general secretary of the Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce, Panayiotis Agniades. Two panel discussions were held as part of the forum, with experts form the two countries who spoke about the investment funds sector and shipping. The speakers of the two panels described the situation in the two sectors in Cyprus and Greece and referred to their prospects. All of them stressed that there is great potential for partnerships between the businesses of the two countries. They also organised tete-a-tete meetings between the businesses where they discussed the details of their cooperation. The Cypriot companies who participated in the forums are the following:  7Q Asset Management Ltd, A.SE.C Emilianides, C Katsaros, S Associates LLC, A Chr.Theophilou LLC, AMF Global Limited Aristodemou Loizides Yiolitis LLC Avantioum Corporate Services Ltd Bank of Cyprus BMKS limited C.X Financial Ltd Centaur Trust Christodoulos Vassiliadis Law firm, Coral Shipmanagement Ltd, Cydris Fund Services Ltd, Eurobank Cyprus, F.C.I Financial Consultants International Ltd, Fiduserve Management Ltd, FMW Financial Media Way, Hanseatic Capital Management, Hellenic Bank, Shipping Centre, KPMG Ltd, N Sawdes Zannetou LLC, Nasos A Kyriakides and Partners LLC, Pelagias Christodoulou Vrachas LLC, Prevention at Sea Ltd, PWC Cyprus, Royal Pine & Association, Salamis Lines Ltd, και Marios Κ Mitsides LLC

 

Bill puts an end to privatisations

The House halted the government’s plans for privatisations, approving – by a majority vote – the termination of all budget lines related to denationalisations/privatisations of state organisations and government businesses, government departments and services except for the development of the Limassol port and the Larnaca marina as well as the development of Troodos, the Cyprus Stock Exchange as well as any other action related to the Solidarity Fund. The bill was submitted by AKEL, DIKO, Citizens’ Alliance and the Green Party and concerns all budget lines that are included in the budget and relate to privatisations.

 

Signing with DEFA at the Presidential Palace

Phileleftheros reports that the Legal Department has kept its word despite the complexity and amount of work required for the completion of the review of the agreement for the construction and operation of an LNG Terminal at Vassilikos, which is a project of great importance for Cyprus, and has completed the legal review of the agreement. The final documents of the agreement as formulated have been agreed upon in the last hours with the Public Gas Company DEFA and the Ministry of Energy which after studying the agreement has given the green light for the final signing of the agreement. According to Phileleftheros’ information, the final documents of the deal were given yesterday to the Chinese Petroleum Consortium Pipeline Engineering και METRON for their review before signing. It was reported that if all goes well, the contract signing will take place within the next 24 hours possibly even tomorrow at a special ceremony scheduled to be held at the Presidential Palace.

 

Cavusoglu: Turkey will do whatever works it wants in its sea shelf

Turkey will do whatever works are needed in its sea shelf adding that no one can do works without obtaining Turkey’s permission. If it does of course, he warns that it will be blocked by Turkey.  By the way, remember Cavusoglu said how when ENI began research explorations in Block 3 of the Cyprus EEZ following its agreement with the Republic of Cyprus, Turkey blocked ENI if you recall the Saipen 12000 in February 2018. Since then, we were told they would return to perform works in another block, but since then they have been tightening the screws.

 

Hard Rock International complains about Hellinikon tender process

The CEO of Hard Rock International, Jim Allen, has complained about the tender process for Hellinikon Casino, arguing that there are legal advisers with a dual role, who affect investors seeking permission to build a hotel in Hellinikon. He said that he has made a complaint that may even call into question the whole tender process. According to Hard Rock International’s Chairman, the lawyers who advise the committee are allegedly also consultants to a competing company which is also taking part in the tender process.

 

Two-hour work stoppage was a cry for help

Alithia and Haravgi report that yesterday’s two-hour work stoppage by the A&E nurses was a cry for help for all the problems they have been facing for a long time without ever being solved. According to the relevant announcement, PASYNO informed the public that A&E departments in Limassol and Paphos, were unable to help citizens due to staff shortages, unless their situation was considered to be very serious. A&E nurses will evaluate the seriousness of the situation and will only take up incidents that require immediate care.

 

A crucial meeting for OKYPY

It’s another crucial day for the public health sector because after the A&E nurses’ work stoppage, state doctors are set to follow suit. State doctors are waiting for OKYPY’s decision tonight regarding the financial incentives they’ll be given and they’ll either finalise or suspend their three-hour work stoppage set for tomorrow. State doctors unions have warned that if OKYPY’s final decision over the doctors’ financial incentives fails to satisfy them, then PASYKI will have to move forward with a three-hour work stoppage. PASYDY and PASESI will announce their decision either late tonight or early tomorrow morning.

 

Out of order due to machine failure

The Nuclear Medicine department at Limassol General Hospital is facing serious problems as the SPECT-CT machine has been out of order for the past month, resulting in daily inconvenience of patients, because the only two other similar machines are located in Nicosia. The machine in Limassol is old and has been breaking down a lot. Limassol MP George T. Georgiou sent a letter to the Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou calling him to immediately take control of the situation as to avoid any worse outcomes.

 

Healthcare sector lit up once again

The healthcare sector has us again sitting on the edge of our sits, with the parties being once again involved in an intense dialogue for the implementation of the GHS, even practicing scaremongering in some cases and talking about the collapse of the GHS, while confusing the financial situations of the State Health Services Organisation with the financial situation of the system. Indeed DIKO MPs talked about the matter of healthcare expenses, while AKEL once again sent a message that they are not demanding that the System changes. DISY’s representatives on the other hand, expressed different opinions with most people trying to settle everyone’s concerns saying that the party does not wish to change the GHS’s rationale. On their part, the HIO and organised patients clarified that OKYPY’s budget is different from the GHS’ budget, with the HIO’s director Andreas Papaconstantinou stressing that the GHS budget is not deficient but has advantages, and referred anyone wanting to know more about the financial situation of state hospitals, to OKYPY. All this took place at a time when the state hospital nurses of A&E departments held a two-hour strike, in show of protest for the cases of violence that are being recorded at their expense, the shortage of hospital rooms and the congestion that has been a daily occurrence at their departments.

 

Health minister fires back at AKEL and DIKO

The Minister of Health fired back at AKEL and DIKO in relation to the MPs opinions as it comes to the GHS. As Ioannou said, the healthcare sector should not be a field of opposition serving political purposes. “However, AKEL’s obsession in the past few days, scaremongering and steamrolling, talking about austerity policies, have forced me to intervene and set the situation right, reminding AKEL why the meeting was held in 2016. The meeting was held to halt the wave of doctor resignations that was ongoing, mainly because of the reduction of salaries and the austerity policies that others caused when they left the country’s economy collapse”, the Minister of Health said in an announcement.

 

Four changes to consolidate the system

The majority of parliamentary parties (DISY, DIKO, EDEK) are looking to make changes to the GHS, aiming at the smooth operation and viability of the system, in view of the general meeting between party leaders and MPs and GHS stakeholders, which was announced by House President Demetris Syllouris. According to Politis’ sources, the changes that are being discussed relate to the following points: 1. A new framework for personal doctors’ salaries. The salaries of the personal doctors should not be determined according to the number of patients that are registered in the doctors’ catalogues. There should be a minimum sum for this and should be completed according to the medical acts and the patients’ visits. 2. Specialised doctors’ fees. If a citizen does not get a referral from their personal doctor and directly visits the specialised doctor, they will have to pay a €25 fine. This fee could be replaced by an alternative regulation. 3. Visiting doctors outside the GHS. In this case the citizens could pay the visit, a potential exam and then pharmaceutical treatment, while each month they contribute to the GHS. What parties are requesting is to put a regulation in place so that citizens are at least able to receive their medicines without getting a prescription from a GHS doctor. 4. Freedom to choose a personal doctor. Citizens should be able to choose the personal doctor they want to visit from the list of personal doctors, without prior registration to any specific doctor.

 

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