Ex-RBS banker takes helm at troubled Bank of Cyprus

Ex-RBS banker takes helm at troubled Bank of Cyprus
The Bank of Cyprus, the crisis-hit Mediterranean island's largest lender, on October 30, 2013 announced losses of 2.21 billion euros ($3 billion) in 2012, exceeding its 2011 losses by more than 60 percent

NICOSIA - Struggling Bank of Cyprus, the island's largest lender, has appointed ex-Royal Bank of Scotland executive John Patrick Hourican as its chief executive officer.

The Irishman who from 2008-2013 headed the investment arm of RBS, itself a state-rescued bank, takes charge of BoC which is undergoing a painful restructuring process after it exited resolution in July.

A BoC announcement said late Tuesday that Hourican was a "dynamic, experienced and qualified professional from the global banking system that is able to respond effectively to the challenges faced by the Group."

BoC last week announced record post-tax losses of 2.21 billion euros (S$3.8 billion) for 2012, a 63-percent jump compared to a EUR1.35 billion loss in 2011.

There was also a significant 441 percent spike in provisions to 2.30 billion from 426 million in 2011 - driven by the deterioration of the loan portfolio and the declining collateral values.

In March, Cyprus agreed a 10 billion euro rescue package negotiated with the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund to bail out its troubled economy and oversized banking system.

The deal also involved the closure of the island's second-largest bank Laiki and a large "hair cut" on BoC deposits above 100,000 euros.

The 16-member board of the BoC now includes six Russians, representing individuals who lost considerable amounts of money in the forced share conversion of 47.5 percent of deposits exceeding EUR100,000.

The unparallelled eurozone "haircut" on deposits forced the government to close all the island's banks for nearly two weeks in March and impose draconian controls when they reopened.

To avoid a rush on deposits there is still a 300 euro cash withdrawal ceiling from banks daily, while cheques cannot be cashed and central bank approval is needed for large business transactions.

After recapitalisation, the share capital of the bank amounts to EUR4.7 billion.

The bank said it has suffered financially from disposing its Greek operations, absorbing Laiki Bank's "good" operations in Cyprus and the UK and discarding its retail business in Romania.

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