NICOSIA Greece's central bank has granted a license to Pillarstone, the platform set up by private equity firm KKR, to provide long-term capital to large Greek corporate borrowers and manage non-performing exposures for Greek banks, Eurobank said on Thursday.
Pillarstone will begin talking within coming weeks with a number of Greek companies, the bank said in a statement without giving details.
KKR(KKR.N) signed an agreement with Eurobank (EURBr.AT) , the country's third largest lender Eurobank, and fourth largest Alpha Bank (ACBr.AT) in 2016, to roll out its platform into Greece.
"The provision of fresh capital and operational expertise to over-indebted businesses, and the ongoing support of Greece's largest banks in managing their underperforming exposures, can play a significant role in the recovery of the country's economy," Johannes Huth, head of KKR EMEA said in a statement.
Greek banks are continuing to struggle with problem loans after a deep, protracted recession pushed unemployment to record highs, making it hard for borrowers to service their debts. They have agreed with regulators on ambitious bad debt reduction targets spanning a 3-year time horizon.
The banks are aiming to cut their so-called non-performing exposures (NPE) to 66.7 billion euros by 2019 from 106.9 billion euros in September 2016, meaning their NPE ratio would fall to 34 percent from 51 percent.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will selectively co-invest in partnership with KKR, Pillarstone and the banks, Eurobank said.
Sabina Dziurman, EBRD's director for Greece and Cyprus, told Reuters on Wednesday that EBRD was ready to invest in Pillarstone "to help get companies back on a performing path" once Pillarstone was licensed by the central bank.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Writing by Renee Maltezou Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)