Athens Digest 27.03.2019

• Government announces new foreclosure protection rules amid talks with creditors

• Revenue and spending targets beaten after payouts suppressed

• FT: Double-digit Conservatives’ Lead in Poll of Polls

• Handjinicolaou named new HBA chairman

• Piraeus Bank announces Berlin financing initiative for Greek businesses

# The government late last night submitted proposals to parliament setting out new insolvency regulations aimed at protecting primary residences from foreclosure in low-income households. The draft legislation was submitted before a final agreement has been finalised between Greece and bailout lenders. Creditors were not surprised by the move that has followed intensive rounds of negotiations. Talks will continue ahead April 5 Eurogroup meeting. Under the proposals, protection can be sought for primary properties with a tax value of up to EUR 250,000. The same applies for business loans up to EUR 175,000 with primary residences used as collateral. The income criteria were set at EUR 12,500 for single applicants, and EUR 21,000 for couples with additional amounts granted for dependants (draft legislation in Greek, here).

# State budget revenue in January and February totalled EUR 8.46 billion, beating the target by EUR 372 million, according to official data, thanks in large part to strong VAT collection. Spending reached EUR 8.97 billion, below target by EUR 566 million. The figure was achieved after the state paid out roughly a third of the EUR 982 million owed to civil servants and pensioners following recent court rulings against a number of bailout-era cuts.

# A pan-European poll of polls carried out for the Financial Times has given New Democracy a lead of 10.6 percentage points over the governing Syriza party. The survey analysed results of four opinion polls conducted in Greece in February and March _ producing a seat projection in the European Parliament of the 10 seats for the conservatives, followed by Syriza 7, Golden Dawn 2, Socialists 1, and the Greek Communist Party 1. Overall, the survey projected an EU-wide win for the centre-right EPP but with a narrower margin (217 to 177 in the Parliament with total post-Brexit seats reduced from 751 to 705).

# As expected, Piraeus Bank Board Chairman George Handjinicolaou has been confirmed as the next chairman of the Hellenic Bank Association, following a vote by the HBA board. “I make the commitment, together with the vice-presidents, to continue with the constructive role of the HBA given the multiple challenges and necessary transformations that the Greek banking system will have to undertake in a particularly demanding economic environment inside and outside Greece,” Handjinicolaou said. He succeeds Nikolaos Karamouzis who was elected HBA chairman in 2016.

On our Radar: Piraeus Bank announces Berlin financing initiative for Greek businesses

Piraeus Bank has announced an agreement with Berliner Sparkasse to support Greek businesses in partnership with German firms in the greater Berlin area. The frame credit agreement with the German savings bank, a branch of Landesbank Berlin AG, will extend Export Credit Agency _ covered credits towards the Greek companies. “The agreement will contribute decisively to the enhancement of Greek entrepreneurship, cross border trade and provides the roadmap to sustainable development,” said Athanasios Vlachopoulos, deputy general manager for corporate and investment banking at Piraeus Bank. The bank said it will finance in cooperation with Berliner Sparkasse under competitive terms, a number of investments across a wide range of industries, including renewable energy sources and large infrastructure projects.