ATHENS, March 17 Greek banks hard-hit by
the country's debt swap might not need all the aid earmarked by
the EU and IMF to help them weather the crisis, central bank
chief George Provopoulos was quoted as saying on Saturday.
The European Union and International Monetary Fund have set
aside some 50 billion euros to recapitalise and support the
lenders, the biggest private holders of Greece's debt.
The banks all took part in the largest debt restructuring in
history this month that saw bondholders lose as much as 74
percent on their investments.
"The recapitalisation of the banks will be completed by
September 2012," Provopoulos told To Vima newspaper. "I believe
that the available amount will not need to be fully exhausted."
Provopoulos said he still hoped there would be mergers in
the Greek banking sector after Alpha Bank on Wednesday
scrapped plans to tie up with rival Eurobank in what
would have been Greece's biggest bank merger in decades.
The merger fell through after the debt swap inflicted a
bigger hit on their portfolios than expected, with Eurobank
particularly affected as its exposure to Greek sovereign bonds
was roughly double.
"It's possible that we will see mergers. After its
recapitalisation the banking sector will be much healthier and
stronger," Provopoulos said ahead of the publication on Monday
of the central bank's monetary policy report.
He warned once again that for Greece to leave the eurozone
would be like "opening the gates of hell."
"Fortunately the decisions by the Eurogroup and successful
completion of PSI (debt swap) are making this scenario distant
and give Greece the chance to enter, with hard work, a virtuous
circle," he said.