OF THE €57.7bn ($68.2bn) of loans that Piraeus Bank, one of Greece’s four dominant lenders, had on its books at the end of March, €20.5bn were more than 90 days overdue. A further €11.7bn were also deemed unlikely to be repaid. In all, at the end of 2017 Greek banks carried €95.7bn of such non-performing exposures (NPEs)—at 43.1% of loans, the heaviest burden in Europe. Still, the pile was €13bn smaller than at its peak in March 2016. The banks plan to reduce it by €30bn this year and next.
Dealing with bad loans to business—around 60% of NPEs, mostly to small firms—is the most daunting part of this monumental job. It means resetting the balance-sheet of much of Greece’s economy, from restaurants to manufacturing. But a new phase of this task is under way, with the first sale of secured commercial loans. On May 29th Piraeus said it had agreed to sell Amoeba, a €1.45bn bundle of loans to around 180 borrowers, to Bain Capital Credit, which has previously bought bad…Continue reading