Greek banks’ presence abroad remains strong, despite a punishing domestic crisis, focusing on activities in southeastern Europe and particularly in the Balkans.
Some banks, however, recently announced they were cutting their international presence, or their intention to cut their equity participations in foreign banks in a move aimed at boosting their capital adequacy.
Despite these announcements, Greek banks have established their international presence, particularly in southeastern Europe, and have increased their presence in the last three years.
According to a report by the Hellenic Bank Association, Greek banks have established activities in 16 countries through 48 subsidiaries and branches, up from 15 countries and 45 subsidiaries and branches in 2007 before the crisis erupted.
Over the last few years, most Greek banks have developed significant activity in the Balkans, implementing a strategy aimed at boosting Greek business activity in regional level and at the same time supporting exports and the Greek economy’s international competitiveness in a difficult period for the economy.
Greek banks’ assets totaled 90.4 billion euros at the end of 2010, up 3.0 pct from the previous year, while pre-tax earnings totaled 790 million euros and deposits grew 15 pct to 43.5 billion euros. Loans totaled 61.3 billion euros, while the loans/deposits ratio fell to 141 pct in 2010 from 164 pct in 2009. Greek banks operated a branch network of 3,496 units, 5,710 ATMs and a workforce of around 50,000.
Greek banks’ presence in several countries in the region, such as Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, fYRoM and Albania is very significant, with their market share in Romania and Serbia approaching 20 pct and surpassing this level in Albania, Bulgaria and fYRoM.