After several reincarnations since its launch as Euromerchant Bank in 1990, Eurobank has established itself as the second largest bank in Greece, Today, it provides a provides a wide array of retail, corporate and investment banking services.
BIG talks to CEO Fokion C. Karavias
All the indications are that Greece is finally emerging from several years of austerity. What would you say were the major contributions that Eurobank has made to this process?
The new government’s pro-business pro-investment policies have certainly helped, but the crisis left Greece with the highest levels of non-performing loans in Europe at 40%. We have set ourselves the goal of reducing this to 16% and we are on track to achieve this. We have also helped raise funds for helping to raise funds for several landmark schemes to improve the country’s built environment including for Europe’s potentially largest urban development, the $8bn Hellinikon project
How would you describe the state of play in Greece today?
Overall sentiment appears to be at a 10-year high. The new government has now fully lifted capital controls and we have seen an acceleration of deposits flowing back into the banking system. Real estate prices are rising from an all-time low and Greek government bonds are also trading at record low yields although in their case this is a positive development and good for Greece.
What can Eurobank do to restore investors’ trust in the Greek economy?
Investors want to know that if they need financing for the projects that they are planning in the country, there is a stable banking system and a bank that is willing and able to provide them with the financing they need. Whatever project comes Eurobank’s way – and it doesn’t matter if it originates with a local or international investor – we will find a way to finance it. Provided, of course, we think it makes sense and it meets our criteria.
How is Eurobank helping Greece re-establish itself as a regional economic power?
Eurobank has strong presence in Bulgaria and Cyprus, a private banking arm in Luxembourg and a small presence in Serbia. This international footprint is very important for those members of the Greek community with businesses interests abroad and it is also important for diversifying the revenue stream of the bank and providing a more solid investment position for our shareholders. In that sense we are leading the way for the country as a whole.
Before assuming the role of CEO in 2015 Mr. Fokion Karavias had held senior position in seven companies within the group. He is currently on the board of EFG Eurolife Life Insurance SA and Eurobank Cyprus Ltd Cards SA. His previous position include Head-Retail Banking Products at Alpha Bank SA; Chairman at Dias SA Closed End Investment Fund; Chairman at Eurobank EFG Asset Management; President for Dias Portfolio Investment Co. SA, Chairman at GLOBAL NEW EUROPE FUND PORTFOLIO INVESTMENTS SA and Treasurer for Telesis Investment Bank SA.
He received a doctorate and a graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an undergraduate degree from the National Technical University of Athens.