Reuters has reported that Eurobank will maintain its Balkan footprint in Bulgaria, Serbia and Cyprus after pulling out of Romania, its deputy CEO said on Tuesday, expecting the group’s subsidiaries there to double their profitability over the next few years.
Greece’s third-largest lender by assets clinched a deal in November to sell its Romanian unit Bancpost to Banca Transilvania, Romania’s second-largest bank, as part of a restructuring plan agreed with European Union authorities.
That sale closed a decade-long chapter of ambitions by Eurobank and other Greek lenders to spread their wings abroad after the country’s debt crisis forced them to retreat and sell foreign subsidiaries to boost their capital ratios.
“Foreign operations contribute more than 50% of the group’s profitability. Our immediate target is to grow this to €200 million (from €110 million),” Deputy Chief Executive Stavros Ioannou told reporters.
After deleveraging its non-Greek assets to €8.7 billion from about €11.2 billion, meeting commitments agreed with EU competition authorities, Eurobank is set to emerge as the lender with the largest international presence among its Greek peers.
The group was fast to pull out of Poland and Turkey at the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008 and sold its Ukraine operations in 2016.
In Bulgaria, where Eurobank bought the network of peer Alpha Bank, its unit Postbank is now the fifth largest bank by assets and the only Greek-owned franchise there after the sale of UBB by peer National Bank and Piraeus Bank’s expected exit.
In Serbia, profitable unit Eurobank Beograd is the seventh largest among 31 banks in the country, while fully-owned Eurobank Cyprus has grown to the island’s third largest by deposits.