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Market opens up to financial sector securitizations

Following the passage of a new law allowing for securitization in the Greek financial sector last summer, the first transaction originated by a non-state entity is about to hit the market, paving the way for what some bankers say could develop into a promising market.

Aspis Bank is planning a €250 million residential mortgage-backed securities issue to be placed with European investors. ABN Amro and the National Bank of Greece are joint lead managers. Previously, only the Greek state could undertake such transactions.

"I believe we will see more asset-backed securities coming into the market in the next few months," says George Kofinakos, general director of Citigroup Capital Markets in Greece. "Up to now, there has been a lot of movement but little action in the local market. Nevertheless, due to the sharp drop in interest rates and the consequent increase of consumer and mortgage loans, Greek banks ought to consider seriously turning to securitization products."

He adds that securitization would help upgrade their balance sheets, trim down high-risk assets, release capital and improve capital adequacy ratios, rendering the banks more competitive. "In addition, it would put them in better shape for Basle II accord implementation," notes Kofinakos. 

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