The best banks in Greece offer the best banking services not only to residents of Greece but also to expats living in the country.
Greece is a lovely nation to visit because of its pleasant year-round temperature, breathtaking landscape, and rich history dating back thousands of years. No wonder why a lot of expats wanting to retire in Greece are applying for Greece Golden Visa.
It attracts many visitors because of its high level of life, which is supported by first-rate educational institutions, healthcare, safety and security measures, the peace of mind provided by a robust legal system, and advantageous business and tax climates.
National Bank of Greece (NBG), Piraeus Bank, Eurobank, and Alpha Bank, are among the best banks in Greece that are widely popular.
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The Banking System In Greece
As of April 2016, the Greek banking system comprises 39 financial institutions, including the Bank of Greece, which is a central bank that participates in the Eurosystem.
Greece is home to a total of eighteen credit institutions, comprising eight commercial banks, nine regional cooperative banks, and one Loan & Consignment Fund. Investing your money in one of the Greek financial institutions is a wise move.
Additionally, seventeen commercial banks from other EU member states have established their presence in the country.
In addition to Bank of America, there are four other outposts of foreign banks. Greek-owned banks dominate the market with a substantial 80% share of the total asset value.
The residual 8% is distributed among distinct specialized institutions and local cooperative banks, while offshore-owned banks possess a share of 12%.
In the loan and deposit markets, a staggering 90% of the industry is controlled by the top four banks.
The Greek banking sector incurred substantial losses as a result of the debt restructuring initiatives carried out in March and December of 2012. The company has undergone a recapitalization process.
At the beginning of 2013, Piraeus Bank made a strategic move by acquiring the Greek branches of three Cypriot banks, namely Bank of Cyprus, Cyprus Popular Bank, and Hellenic Bank.
Furthermore, Piraeus has entered into a contractual agreement to acquire Millennium Bank, which is currently under Portuguese ownership.
Additionally, in 2012, Piraeus successfully acquired the viable assets of the Agricultural Bank of Greece, which was previously government-owned.
Following a period of rapid sectoral consolidation in 2012 and 2013, the banking industry experienced a significant stabilization in 2014, largely attributed to the implementation of a comprehensive recapitalization program.
In May 2015, Greece’s primary financial institutions were heavily dependent on the European Central Bank for support.
The recent policies of the new administration and the ongoing negotiations with the nation’s official sector creditors have created a sense of economic uncertainty, leading to a significant decrease in deposits.
In August 2015, Greece commenced the initial implementation of the ESM bailout agreement, which included the third recapitalization of its four largest banks within a span of five years.
This move was carried out in November 2015. Once more, significant hedge funds hailing from the United States and other nations were implicated.
With non-performing loans accounting for more than 40% of the total loans held by banks, the sustainability of the country’s economy remains a challenge for the banking system. The establishment of an NPL market aimed at resolving these loans has encountered a setback.
In order to sustain their operations, companies of various magnitudes require assistance in securing bank loans. In light of this constraint, global financial institutions are presently endeavoring to extend loans and augment liquidity in the Greek market, with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development being among them.
According to the latest financial report, as of March 1, 2016, the total deposits amounted to €121.4 billion, indicating a slight decline from the previous year’s figure of €138.5 billion.
Over the course of the past decade, there has been a notable decline in total deposits, with a significant decrease of €116.1 billion observed since December 2009.
The Top Banks In Greece
The banking system of Greece underwent a significant transformation in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Thanks to recent legislative measures, corporate restructuring, and recapitalization efforts, the industry has achieved a remarkable level of global recognition for its elevated capitalization standards and notable advancements in stability, governance, and transparency.
Following the consolidation of more than 60 banks, the Greek banking sector underwent a significant transformation, resulting in the emergence of four systemic banks, namely the National Bank of Greece (NBG), Piraeus Bank, Eurobank, and Alpha Bank.
Additionally, a handful of nonsystemic banks, with Attica Bank being the largest, were also established.
Despite the economic turbulence, financial institutions have managed to maintain their solvency and are gradually returning to profitability.
After a series of consolidation and liquidation events, the credit industry has undergone a significant transformation, resulting in the emergence of four major systemic banks and several smaller nonsystemic banks.
Over the course of the past decade, the four major systemic banks have undergone a series of rigorous stress tests and subsequent rounds of recapitalization. In total, these efforts have amounted to a significant sum of €65 billion.
The Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) is the entity responsible for managing the state’s bank holdings. These holdings consist of a 40% stake in the National Bank of Greece (NBG), a 26% stake in Piraeus Bank, an 11% stake in Alpha Bank, and a 2% stake in Eurobank.
According to the FY16 statistics, Greece possesses a significant portion of the EU’s non-performing exposures (NPEs), amounting to approximately 10%.
This figure translates to a substantial 45% of the nation’s total domestic loans, which equates to a staggering €105 billion. The European Central Bank has set a goal for the Greek banking sector to decrease its non-performing exposure (NPE) to €67 billion by the close of 2019.
In 2016, the aggregate CET1 of the company exceeded 16%, which is a remarkable feat. Additionally, the capital ratio of the company is comfortably higher than the EU average of 13.6%, making it one of the highest ratios in Europe.
Furthermore, the financial institution successfully retrieved a total of €8.5 billion in capital that had been transferred overseas during the period spanning from 2015 to 2017.
The Central Bank of Greece
The Bank of Greece serves as the primary monetary authority for the Hellenic Republic. The company’s principal office is situated on Panepistimiou Street in Athens, with additional branches located throughout the country.
The establishment of the organization dates back to 1927, with formal operations commencing in the subsequent year of 1928.
The construction of the current headquarters building was completed a decade after, precisely in the year 1938. The Bank of Greece, a publicly traded entity, is listed on the Athens Exchange.
In December 1927, with the passage of Law 3424/7, the Bank of Greece was established. It is a part of the ESCB, or European System of Central Banks. Shares of the Bank of Greece have been traded on the Athens Stock Exchange since the 12th of June, 1930.
This particular enterprise is a sizable government-owned corporation that possesses distinctive advantages, restrictions, and responsibilities.
The institution in question is restricted from operating as a commercial bank, and it is mandated that the Greek state’s ownership of shares must not surpass 35%. The company has a workforce of more than 1,800 individuals.
The primary objective of the Bank of Greece is to uphold price stability within the Greek economy. Furthermore, it assumes the responsibility of supervising private financial institutions while simultaneously acting as the fiscal agent and treasurer for the Greek government.
6 Best Banks In Greece
1. Piraeus Bank
Athens serves as the location for the headquarters of the Greek multinational financial services company known as Piraeus Bank. This bank is one of the best banks in Greece.
Athens Stock Exchange (ATHEX) has been the venue for the trading of equity holdings in the Piraeus Bank from January 1918.
This bank is the largest bank in Greece, with a market share of 30% in loans (34.4 billion) and a market share of 29% in deposits (54.6 billion).
With that, the bank dominates the Greek financial sector. Additionally, the universal bank Piraeus Bank provides customers with a wide variety of banking services to choose from.
Historically, a bank that provided assistance to SMEs was well-versed in a variety of banking specialties, including electronic banking, capital markets, agricultural banking, leasing, consumer and mortgage financing, investment banking, and green banking. 1918 was the year when the bank first started trading on the Athens Exchange.
The Greek government took over the bank in 1975 and transformed it into a universal financial institution. The new headquarters were designed by Sir Basil Spence and are located on Stadiou Street in the middle of Athens.
The bank was privatized by the government in December 1991, and in the time since then, it has grown both in size and scope.
In addition to its 484 locations in Greece, which together provide a wide range of banking products and services, the bank now has 133 offices in the cities of Frankfurt, London, Frankfurt, Bulgaria, and Albania.
2. National Bank of Greece
In 1841, the Modern Greek State saw the establishment of its first bank, which was known as the National Bank of Greece. Over the course of the nation’s 179-year history, it has consistently been an important contributor to the national economy.
Right now, NBG is in command of one of Greece’s largest financial conglomerates, which has far-reaching consequences for the country’s economic and social development efforts.
The NGB Group principally operates in 8 countries outside of NBG. Between its two commercial banking subsidiaries in Malta and North Macedonia, the company employs 9,556 people.
It provides a wide range of financial products and services, including leasing, deposit and investment services, brokerage, factoring, insurance, numerous financing choices, and additional financing facilities, amongst others.
It is the largest bank in terms of deposits and the second-largest bank in terms of overall assets in the nation. In terms of Greek loan assets, it is the third-largest bank. Having said that, the National Bank of Greece is one of the best banks in Greece.
The bank provides a variety of financial products and services to customers at its 542 sites in Greece and its 336 branches located in other countries.
3. Alpha Bank
Alpha is one of the best banks in Greece according to its stock market valuation. People and companies in Greece and other countries may take use of the bank’s full range of financial products and services via one of its 671 branches or subsidiaries located throughout southern Europe.
John F. Costopoulos established a little trading company in the city of Kalamata in 1879, which later became Alpha Bank. In 1918, he changed the name of the banking business he oversaw to the Bank of Kalamata.
The bank changed its name to Banque de Credit Commercial Hellenique in 1924, the same year that it moved its headquarters to Athens. In 1947, the institution was rebranded as the Commercial Credit Bank, and in the years that followed, it underwent further rebranding as the Credit Bank and the Alpha Credit Bank.
In 1999, ACB bought the remaining 51% of shares in Ionian Popular Bank, and the following year, the bank was fully absorbed into ACB. In addition to this, it went through a name change and is now known as Alpha Bank. In 2002, there was an attempt to combine Alpha Bank with the National Bank of Greece, but it was unsuccessful.
The capital raising for Alpha Bank of €1.2 billion was completed on March 31, 2014. The bank repurchased all Hellenic Republic Shares for their full face value on April 17, 2014.
The Comprehensive Assessment of the European Central Bank in the Static Adverse Scenario was completed by Alpha Bank on October 26, 2014, with a CET1 of 8.07% and a Capital Surplus of Euro 1.3 billion.
Based on the conditions that aren’t good for the economy as a whole, CET1 is 8.45% and has a capital balance of €1.8 billion. In 2014, Alpha Bank bought the private banking business of Citibank in Greece.
4. Citibank Greece
The global financial institution Citibank is one of the best banks in Greece. Additionally, it is the first Greek bank to offer investment products to Greek customers, making it a pioneer in the industry.
Athens serves as the location of the headquarters for Citibank Greece, which is a subsidiary of Citibank National Association. It offers products and services related to banking to members of the general public, as well as to financial institutions and businesses.
When Citibank sold its retail banking business in Greece to Alpha Bank in 2014, it handed over more than 720 employees, its wealth management division, and a retail branch network that services 480,000 clients to Alpha Bank as part of the transaction.
As a result of the consulting, credit extension services, and debt and equity capital markets that it provides, Citi Greece is regarded as a valuable partner by large enterprises and financial institutions in Greece.
In addition, Citi’s unparalleled worldwide reach offers over 250 of its subsidiaries a significant competitive edge that cannot be replicated.
It provides a comprehensive selection of banking services, including trade finance services, , cash and liquidity management, and advanced reporting tools, all of which are made available via a cutting-edge and well-regarded corporate online banking platform.
Citi Greece is the most prominent company to benefit from institutional flows for trading on the Athens Exchange. The Securities Services division has held the position of the single significant custodian in Greece for the last 18 years, and it still holds that position now.
5. Attica Bank
Attica Bank S.A., which was previously known as the Bank of Attica SA, operates in the banking industry of Greece. This makes it the sixth biggest bank in Greece.
It has 48 branches around the country, the majority of which are located outside of its headquarters in Athens.
Attica Bank, S.A. was established in the year 1925. Individuals, small and medium businesses, and big businesses may all take use of the firm’s extensive selection of banking and investing services and products, which includes brokerage services, deposits, insurance products, mutual funds, and other investment options. The Athens Exchange is where you may find it listed.
Attica Bank was purchased by Emporiki Bank Companies Group in 1964, after which it was subsequently listed on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).
In June of 1997, Emporiki Bank transferred through the ASE a portion of its shares to the Engineers’ and Public Works Contractors’ Pension Fund (TSMEDE) and the Deposit and Loans Fund (TPD).
The bank continued to hold on to the remaining 17% of the bank’s shares until September of 2012, when it then transferred those shares to PostBank.
During the years 2013–2018, the bank went ahead with the issuance of a convertible Bond Loan in addition to Share Capital Increases with the intention of cleaning up its Balance Sheet and reorganizing its business model as well as its operations.
In the year 2021, the bank began the process of activating the provisions of article 27A of Law 4172/2013 (DTC) and began issuing warrants in behalf of the Greek State.
The completion of the conversion of warrants held in favor of the Greek State into common shares took place on October 19, 2021.
The Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), the Engineers and Public Works Contractors Fund (TMEDE), and the Unified Social Security Institution (EFKA) own a combined total of 68.2%, 14.7%, and 10.3% of the bank’s common ordinary shares, respectively, according to the shareholding structure of the bank.
Additionally, Attica Bank carried out a fully covered €240 million share capital increase in December 2021.
A total of 1,200,000,000 additional common registered shares with a par value of €0.20 were issued, increasing the bank’s share capital by the same amount.
Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) owns 62.9% of the bank’s common ordinary shares, Engineers and Public Works Contractors Fund (TMEDE) owns 14.7%, Unified Social Security Institution (EFKA) owns 10.3%, and RINOA Ltd. – Ellington Solution owns 9.9%.
Participation of Attica Bank in Attica Bancassurance Agency S.A.
Attica Bank follows the rules of corporate governance by trying to be open and honest with its Shareholders, Employees, Executives, Contractors, Partners, and Suppliers and by giving the interested public instant and ongoing information.
Attica Bank follows the rules for the financial sector, especially those that have to do with fighting crime, by always doing its best to meet the needs of its customers and the government.
In order to have good Corporate Governance, the bank uses a complete internal audit system for the Group that is in line with international norms and the present legal structure.
Eurobank is a banking institution that may be found operating in the countries of Greece, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Serbia, and Bulgaria in addition to the United Kingdom.
The Eurobank Group has 13,162 workers as of the end of 2018, 58 billion euros in assets, 653 client service centers in Greece and elsewhere, and a combined total of €58 billion.
Eurobank is not just one of the best banks in Greece, but is actually The Best Bank in Greece. Global Finance magazine, which is known all over the world, has awarded the title of “Best Bank in Greece for 2022” to Eurobank. This achievement marks the seventh year in a row (2016-2022) that Eurobank has received this honor.
The awards honor the coherence of the Bank’s development plan, as well as the Bank’s unwavering commitment to environmentally responsible business practices, as well as the Bank’s provision of assistance and creative solutions to its clients in order to meet their requirements.
Given the recent string of crises that have heightened the difficulties faced by the world’s financial sector, the award given out this year takes on a greater level of significance than usual.
The most successful banks are those who have been able to successfully support their clients in the face of challenging market circumstances, produce remarkable outcomes while also building the groundwork for future sustainable development, and so on.
The practice of responsible business on the basis of criteria that are widely recognized all over the world has been a focus in Eurobank’s approach to doing business for a very long time.
The mission of the firm is to be an industry leader at all times, to successfully handle difficult problems, to combine technology innovation with its highly qualified people resources, and to put into practice the most effective sustainable business procedures.
History of Eurobank
The bank was originally named “V. Karavasilis Tobacco Company and Bank SA” when it was established in 1924. The name was changed to “Karavasilis Bank SA” in 1937, and then again to “Professional Credit Bank SA” in 1952. It was purchased by the National Bank of Greece in 1964, and in 1992, the National Bank of Greece rebranded the institution as the Bank of Athens.
1990 marked the beginning of operations for the Euromerchant Bank SA. In 1994, it assumed responsibility for 75% of the activities of EFG Private Bank (Luxembourg) S.A.
1997 saw the company change its name to EFG Eurobank SA, at which time it also completed the acquisition of the branch network of Crédit Lyonnais Grèce SA and the Interbank Greece SA In February of 1999, EFG Eurobank SA and Cretabank SA amalgamated into one financial institution.
The merger between Bank of Athens and EFG Eurobank SA took place in March of 1999. After acquiring the well-known Ergasias Bank in 2000, the financial institution formally changed its name to EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA.
It began its acquisition spree in 2002, when it bought Telesis Investment Bank, and continued in 2003 with UnitBank. In 2007, the workers of the company created a financial products subsidiary, which they hold 49.9% of.
In 2012, the bank sold Raiffeisen Bank International 70 percent of the Polish branches that were under the Polbank brand name.
Because of the financial situation in Greece at the time, the 2012 merger between Eurobank EFG, which was affiliated with Spiros Latsis, and Alpha Bank, which was owned by Giannis Kostopoulos (Greek: o), was called off.
The proposed merger would involve contributions of capital from the Qatar Investment Authority in the form of a convertible bond with a face value of 500 million euros and a rights issue with a face value of 1.25 billion euros.
This would make the Qatar Investment Authority a major shareholder, along with the largest bank in Southeast Europe, which has assets worth 150 billion euros and deposits totaling 80 billion euros.
Following the financial crisis that occurred in Greece in 2012 and the subsequent bailouts of Greek banks, the Swiss-Luxembourg based EFG Group, which was the owner of Eurobank at the time, was instructed to split off the Greek bank from the rest of its operations.
In July of that year, Eurobank was separated from the company, its shares were acquired by the Latsis family of Greece, and the institution was subsequently rebranded as Eurobank Ergasias.
In January of 2013, the National Bank of Greece made a bid to take over Eurobank Ergasias, which eventually did not go through. The offer was accepted by 64,000 shareholders of Eurobank as well as the Greek capital market commission.
In the latter half of 2013, Eurobank completed the acquisition of New TT Hellenic Postbank as well as New Proton Bank.
As of December 2014, the bank ranked third in terms of total assets in Greece, fourth in terms of market capitalization, and third in terms of both total loans and total deposits.
Nikolaos Karamouzis has served as both the chairman and a non-executive director of Eurobank Ergasias since February 1, 2015, while Fokion Karavias has served as both the chief executive officer and an executive director from the same day.
Major owners include the Canadian firm Fairfax Financial, which had a stake of 18.2% in the company in 2018, which was expanded following the purchase of Grivalia Properties until it reached 32.9%.
The statistics for the end of the year 2015 showed that total net loans were €39.9 billion, customer deposits were €31.4 billion, and central bank financing was €24.3 billion. Non-performing loans made up 43.8% of the total, while provisions made up 53.3% of the total.
At the end of the year 2020, the total amount of non-performing loans held by the group was 5.7 billion euros. Eurobank made a public announcement in March 2020 on a plan to lower the percentage of its nonperforming loans from 14% to 9%.
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