Emporiki Bank CEO Alain Strub on Thursday reiterated that the Credit Agricole subsidiary in Greece will continue to wholeheartedly support the Greek economy in the current dire situation. Below is an interview the French executive, who is also the vice-chairman of Emporiki's board of directors, gave to the ANA-MPA.
1. You have recently presented your initiative “This is Greece” for the promotion of the Greek entrepreneurship. What is the rationale of this initiative?
Τhe initiative “This is Greece” derives from Emporiki’s strong will to reveal and promote the hard working, innovative and extrovert side of the Greek entrepreneurship. As a banking institution, we know that this positive aspect of Greece remains very much present, even during the current very difficult period of time for the country and we believe it deserves to be looked at and to be brought forward, so as to help shift the prevailing negative climate both in Greece and abroad. The initiative “This is Greece” reaffirms Emporiki’s firm commitment to keep standing by the side of Greek businesses and professionals, and it also demonstrates the confidence of our parent Group, Credit Agricole to the recovery prospects of the Greek economy.
2. What are the key pillars of your initiative?
Key pillar of our actions is the creation of a web blog (www.this-is-greece.gr) that hosts the entire initiative and serves as a ‘hub’ where the general public is invited to share their own real and daily life experiences from examples of the well-functioning sides of Greece today. The idea is that everyone can think and share at least one good example of a Greek company, no matter how large or small, a professional entity or individual, a school or academic institution, everywhere in Greece, where in fact things are done in the right way and stand out.
In addition, Emporiki Bank funded the production of a video entitled “This is Greece: Thinking differently, acting differently”, showcasing indicative real life examples of Greek businesspeople and businesses, who even today, keep growing both inside and outside Greece, keep adding value to their products and services, keep promoting innovative, forward looking business thinking and practices, keep securing and creating job positions.
I want to make it clear that this is not about advertising, this is about making a choice to focus on the existing positive examples rather than the, also existing, negative ones.
3. Do you think that Greek entrepreneurship can contribute to the country’s exit from the crisis and to a reboot of the growth procedure?
Not only can it contribute but it can be the leading factor to the recovery of the Greek economy. The sound, innovative, productive businesses are the ones that can add true value to the country’s resources and secure job positions, thus contributing to economic growth. Of course it is imperative for Greek companies to attract further investments and become even more extrovert. I am confident that even in this very challenging economic environment there are good investment and business - making opportunities.
4. How does Emporiki Bank, as a member of the largest banking Group in France, view its presence in Greece, at a time when the country is challenged by this unprecedented economic crisis?
Emporiki Bank has made the strategic decision to stand by the side of Greek households, professionals and businesses, and with the strength of Credit Agricole, it is both able and willing to provide them with substantial liquidity and real solutions to their real needs.
With regards to businesses, we have recently launched a series of business financing products, which provide solid alternatives, tailor-made for small businesses and professionals, helping the true backbone of Greece’s economy. Moreover, at this difficult time, we chose to continue investing in our branch network and our people, so as to keep improving, not only our products but also the services that we provide to our customers.
In addition to that, especially nowadays, we want to go beyond the offering of merely banking products and services, and this is one of the main reasons that we initiated “This is Greece”. We want to contribute in shifting the domestic and international
focus from the negative to the positive aspects of Greece and we see many of the country’s entrepreneurial resources as the ‘ambassadors’ of this effort.
Therefore, and notwithstanding the extreme difficulties of the current environment, we in Emporiki still see healthy growth opportunities in the market and we maintain confidence in the recovery potential of the Greek economy.
5. It is true that Emporiki is one of the few banks in Greece today that continue providing loans, at a time when financing has been comatose. How do you secure your money?
In this turbulent and increasingly complex environment, we cannot ignore our institutional - next to our business- role as a bank. Emporiki and Credit Agricole are both willing and able to continue supporting the Greek economy and we have a duty to support our customers and help them successfully cope with the crisis.
Of course, we will continue to do so by maintaining our well-defined risk management policy, which has enabled us to shield the quality of our new loans portfolio and to continue delivering our commitment to finance the Greek economy.
6. How optimistic are you personally about the Greek economy?
It is true that the Greek economy and society are facing one of the biggest challenges of contemporary history. Although assessments and forecasts cannot be safely made in this environment, I am confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that Greece has the potential to override the crisis, provided of course that necessary structural reforms will allow the country to regain its competitiveness and that the sound Greek entrepreneurship will have all the support it can get, in order to lead healthy economic growth in the future.