CyprusProfile talks to George Appios, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of AstroBank (Cyprus) Ltd on the key areas of opportunity or growth in the banking sector, and expectations for Cyprus in 2018
Following the financial crisis of 2013, the Cyprus economy has not only managed to regain its footing but has recorded impressive growth and was recently ranked one of the fastest growing EU economies. The country took advantage of the adjustment programme to introduce reforms and correct some of the weaknesses of its financial system. As a result, Cyprus’ banks have stabilised, boosted by growing deposits, continuous credit rating upgrades and significant foreign investment.
Our institution is an example of the new foreign investment in the sector. Piraeus Bank Cyprus was acquired last December by a group of international investors led by the prominent Lebanese banker and former energy minister, Maurice Sehnaoui. The groups injected fresh capital in a vote of confidence in the country’s economy that underscores the attractive economic environment and investment opportunities it offers and renamed the bank to AstroBank.
At AstroBank we think that growth opportunities, which are crucial in generating new business for banks, can mainly be found in tourism. This is the power engine of the economy currently contributing to more than 12% of GDP. The expanding education sector and shipping, where the Cyprus Registry is ranked the 11th largest merchant fleet in the world and the third largest in the European Union also offer opportunities. We also see moderate growth in retail, consumer and housing loans and more potential in the areas of asset management and custody banking.
During 2018, the economy is expected to continue to grow at a faster pace than other European Countries. The construction industry, which enjoyed a revival in the past year attributed mainly to large-scale projects, will continue to drive the economy, even though it may not grow in the same rates as in 2017.
The country needs more investments. We must promote the long pending government reform and continue working for a business-friendly economic environment. More needs to be done. We need to acknowledge that maintaining the competitive edge of an economy requires a never-ending reform effort.
By the end of the year we will know the outcome of the test drilling in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). How the leading international energy giants that have invested in Cyprus EEZ’s decide to proceed after that, will depend on the volume of the hydrocarbons reserves and will be critical to the future of the economy of Cyprus.
We believe that AstroBank, through its growth strategy and its support to the economy, has an important role to play in a future progress of prosperity and progress.
View AstroBank profile.