Greek Bank Recap Secures Normal Operation, Fund Chief Says

Hellenic Financial Stability Fund chief Panayotis Thomopoulos said the 18 billion euros ($22.3 billion) funneled to Greece’s four biggest banks this week will ensure the banking system operates normally and will protect deposits.

Banks have to submit comprehensive restructuring plans, which could include job losses and closing branches, to the HFSF by the end of August so that their recapitalization is completed in September, Thomopoulos said. Final terms, like the price at which the banks will be recapitalized by the state-owned HFSF and the mix of equity and debt instruments used, must be determined by a cabinet meeting after Greece forms a government, he added.

“The Greek economy is passing through a deep crisis that would be worse if the banking system didn’t operate normally,” Thomopoulos told reporters in Athens today. “When banks are recapitalized in September it will produce a period of stability for the financial system.”

Greece’s banks need recapitalizing after sustaining losses on their holdings of government bonds in the country’s debt swap, the biggest sovereign restructuring in history. The country, which is holding repeat elections on June 17 after an inconclusive May 6 vote didn’t yield a government, secured a 130 billion-euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund in March, which earmarks 50 billion euros for the bank recapitalization.

Can’t Lend to State

Bringing the core tier one capital ratios for the banking system to 9 percent by September, part of the economic program for Greece, will cost 42 billion euros, Thomopoulos said. The remainder of the funds will provide a buffer, he added.

The HFSF can’t lend money to the Greek state in case the state runs short of cash, Thomopoulos, responding to questions on reports that the HFSF would provide funds it has for bank recapitalizations in case the Greek state runs short of cash.

After dispersing the recapitalization bridge to the banks earlier this week, the HFSF currently has 7.7 billion euros at its disposal, of which 7 billion euros are bonds from the European Financial Stability Facility and 700 million euros is cash remaining from the country’s first EU and IMF bailout in May 2010, Thomopoulos said.

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