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Eurobank management heartened by market interest in €9.5B of securitized debt

Eurobank Ergasias SA Deputy CEO Stavros Ioannou said he was encouraged by the level of interest in two major portfolios of securitized debt that the bank is selling off as part of ongoing efforts to clean up its balance sheet.

A €2 billion securitization of mortgage loans, codenamed Pillar, and a €7.5 billion multiasset securitization, codenamed Cairo, are both at the binding offer stage and expected to close in July and November, respectively.

"We are pleased with the level of market participation," Ioannou told analysts during a call for the bank's first-quarter results.

Pillar is the first securitization in the Greek market to be publicly rated. DBRS announced May 30 that it had rated Pillar BB (low), and said the success of the deal would open the door for further securitizations by both Eurobank and other Greek lenders.

"This, in turn, will lead to an improvement of banks' asset quality and might constitute an important turnaround for the country," the rating agency said.

According to information from DBRS, 87% of Pillar comprises mortgages linked to residential property while the remainder of the portfolio is made up of debt linked to mixed commercial properties and land — 5.2% and 6.4%, respectively.

With its bad debt cleanup on schedule, Eurobank is increasingly free to devote its energy to growing its loan book again, Ioannou said.

Loan demand is starting to rise again, particularly in Eurobank's Bulgarian and Cypriot businesses, he added.

The bank's international markets, Cyprus and Bulgaria, will be key drivers of loan growth in the coming year, while on the domestic front, Eurobank is expecting to see credit demand from the energy, infrastructure and tourism sectors, Ioannou said.

The bank's performing loan book saw marginal growth in the quarter, to €28.5 billion compared with €27.4 billion a year previously. Within this book, its international portfolio increased to €5.9 billion from €5.3 billion a year previously.

Net interest income for the quarter came in at 342.7 million, down from 354.8 million a year previously.

The bank's nonperforming exposure ration was 36.7%, compared with 41.8% a year previously.