(Updates with additional comment in third paragraph)
By Stelios Orphanides
Hellenic Bank, Cyprus’s third largest lender, is offering its workers a voluntary retirement scheme in an attempt to cut cost which could have an up to €40m short-term impact on profitability, a spokesperson said.
The scheme aims at reducing the number of the bank’s workers by 200, the spokesman said in a telephone interview on Monday. The compensation package depends on a worker’s salary, number of years in service and age, with a €200,000 cap per beneficiary. The spokesman said that the scheme aims at facilitating the exit of workers aged 50 and above.
Hellenic Bank workers who were transferred to APS Debt Servicing Ltd, as part of its agreement with the Prague-based APS Holdings, will also be eligible to participate in the scheme, the spokesperson said. The impact on the bank’s profitability is likely to be considerably below maximum amount.
The lender, which posted a €62.7m loss after tax in 2016, is struggling with a €2.4bn mountain of non-performing loans, more than half of its entire loan portfolio. Last year, the number of its employees rose to 1,646 from 1,555 in 2015 and 1,423 in 2014. Staff cost rose last year to €82m from €80m in 2015, and €75.3m in 2014.
Bank workers’ union Etyk, notorious for its aggressive rhetoric, said in a statement on its website on Monday that it had already been notified by Hellenic about the content of the retirement scheme and received assurances that it will apply on a voluntary basis.
The union also warned Hellenic not to try to pressure any of its staff to apply for the scheme.
The bank’s spokesman said that Etyk already gave its approval to the scheme.