articles | 01 December 2014

Bank of Cyprus in non-deal roadshows in NY and London

Bank of Cyprus, the recently recapitalised lender that raised about €1 bln and attracted new strategic investors, such as Wilbur L. Ross Jr. and the EBRD, is embarking on a series of non-deal roadshows in New York and London, in an effort to raise awareness and pave the ground for new bond issues.

The bank intends to issue a covered bond using up to €1 billion of real estate mortgage-back securities as collateral, a senior overseas bond and a corporate repurchase agreement (Repo) to help pay down its short-term debt to the European Central Bank. It also plans to use a €950 million Cyprus government-guaranteed bond as collateral for the Repos.

The bank, that was burdened with a €9.5 billion rescue debt carried by now-defunct Laiki Popular Bank, has been repaying this Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) to the ECB and plans to reduce this debt to “less than” 25% of its balance sheet by 2017, a senior official said.

At last count, ELA had been reduced to €7.5 billion.

The one-time bellwether and darling of the Cyprus Stock Exchange was brought to its knees last year when the Eurogroup of Eurozone finance ministers imposed a bail-in of unsecured deposits above €100,000 in return for equity, as part of the island’s unpopular bailout and austerity measures.

The bank had been exposed to a disproportionate amount of toxic Greek government bonds that were written down by a unanimous decision of EU leaders in November 2011 as a way to prop up the Greek economy. The bank, together with other Cypriot lenders were also deprived of their Greek branch operations as part of the same deal, increasing the risk exposure in its financial statements.

Despite announcing flat profits of €76 million until the end of the third quarter, Bank of Cyprus saidit was returning to the Cyprus and Athens bourses on or about December 16 with the listing of new shares from the capital raise in September and the cash-for-equity conversion from the bail-in of depositors.

It will also list some 416 million new shares at 24c each, the same price as the placement offered to institutional investors, when it raises a further €100 million to current shareholders from December 15 to January 9, 2015.

However, the bank’s CEO John Hourican, who has been overseeing a radical asset sale and downsizing of the bank during his 12 months in charge, believes a corner has been turned after the historical investment this year.

In a statement, Hourican said that “during the quarter we have made further progress in delivering against our strategic objectives,” adding that the Group’s performance “is underpinned by the performance of our core Cypriot operations, supporting our efforts of shrinking to strength through the disposal of non-core operations and assets.” The balance sheet was deleveraged by a further €1.1 billion during the third quarter, he said.

Source: Financial Mirror

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