ATHENS – Buried under a mountain of bad loans during an economic crisis worsened by austerity measures, Greece’s fourth-largest lender Alpha Bank will join with a Spanish firm to try to get people to pay.
Alpha Bank said it will work with the company Aktua Soluciones Financieras and ask the Spaniards to helpp manage a substantial chunk of its non-performing loans which stood at 33.6 percent at the end of September.
The joint venture, Aktua Hellas, will be 45 percent owned by Alpha and 55 percent by Aktua, pending regulatory approvals., Reuters reported.
“Aktua Hellas will specialize in managing non-performing assets to accelerate friendly resolutions and reach consensual and non-judicial solutions,” Alpha Bank said.
Greeks smothered by big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings have been unable to pay their mortgages, credit cards and loans but are being hounded by the banks to pay up anyway, except for the ruling parties of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives and its coalition partner the PASOK Socialists who together owe 250 million euros to banks, aren’t paying and aren’t being chased.
The government gave the banks 50 billion euros in recapitalization loans later but many customers said they aren’t being offered chances to restructure their loans and are being asked to pay up in full even though they can’t. Banks have also sought aid from collection agencies to go after debtors.
Bad loans have approached some 80 billion euros as banks struggle to find methods to get people to pay. The government-imposed austerity measures, demanded by international lenders, created record unemployment and deep poverty, which have barely begun to recede.