May 9, 2017 / 2:02 PM / in 2 months

INTERVIEW-EBRD investments in Greece to hit 2 bln euros by 2018

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NICOSIA, May 9 (Reuters) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development expects its financing in Greece to keep growing and to reach the 2.0 billion euro mark by 2018, one of its top officials said on Tuesday.

Sabina Dziurman, the EBRD's director for Greece and Cyprus, told Reuters the bank so far has spent just over one billion euros to help the country's economic recovery, without including trade finance lines.

"This year we will do more than in 2016 and look forward to hitting the 2 billion euro level next year," Dziurman said on the sidelines of the EBRD's annual meeting in Cyprus.

The EBRD will be investing in Greece up until the end of 2020. Given the limited time, the bank has been frontloading its investments.

It has laid out 250 million euros to help recapitalise the country's four big banks, provided 186 million euros of long-term financing to Fraport-Greece to upgrade 14 regional airports and committed 300 million euros to renewable energy projects.

"When we run out of deals to do, we will have done the job," Dziurman said. "But we are a long way from that. We're here to help the economy recover, the sooner we can do it, the more it will help."

Through its engagement, the EBRD aims to attract private sector investments and help small and medium-sized firms with access to finance, a key barrier to growth when credit is tight as is the case in Greece.

The bank is also ready to invest in Pillarstone, a platform that will provide fresh long-term capital to large Greek corporate borrowers and is awaiting licensing by the Bank of Greece.

"We will invest in Pillarstone to help get companies back on a performing path. We will sign a deal once it is licensed," Dziurman said.

The EBRD has a similar mandate in Cyprus, ending in 2020, she said, but if reunification of the island goes ahead the bank will ask its shareholders to lengthen it.

"There will be quite a bit to do, joining the two sides," Dziurman said.

Greek and Turkish Cypriots are holding talks aimed at ending the island's decades-long division along ethnic lines. (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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