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Greece working on additional plans to assist banks in reducing soured debt

Greece is working on another plan to help local banks reduce their nonperforming loans, in addition to the country's European Commission-approved asset protection scheme, Bloomberg News reported, citing Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.

Staikouras, speaking to the newswire in an interview, said Greece is seeking "realistic, innovative and efficient systematic solutions" to eventually reach single-digit NPL ratios. The government is in talks with European creditors to see if it can use proceeds from Greek bonds, which were purchased by central banks, for investment purposes instead of debt repayments.

The state's bad loan ratio stood at 39.2% at June-end, while the "big four" Greek lenders — Piraeus Bank SA, Eurobank Ergasias SA, National Bank of Greece SA and Alpha Bank AE — still have over €80 billion of toxic debt on their balance sheets between them, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

The banks have to reduce NPLs by about €50 billion by 2021-end to meet regulatory targets, the report said.

Earlier in October, the EC approved Greece's Hercules project, similar to Italy's GACS scheme, which could reportedly lower banks' soured debt stocks by €30 billion. The Greek government has yet to pass it into law.