Athens Digest 16.07.2019

• ESM’s Regling meets new MinFin Staikouras in Athens

• Greece opts for 7-year bond in latest market test

• PPC’s lignite tender declared null-and-void

• Piraeus Bank announces voluntary departure programme

ESM Managing Director Klaus Regling began meetings with officials from Greece’s new government. Regling, in Athens to speak at the Economist conference, met with Finance Minister Christos Staikouras. “The meeting was held in a positive atmosphere.Topics discussed were the current situation of the Greek economy, Greece’s commitments, the government’s priorities, and the country‘s challenges and prospects,” an ESM statement said. Regling will meet PM Mitsotakis today in Athens.

Staikouras had also a discussion with Mario Centeno, the president of the Eurogroup. “I spoke with the new finance minister of over the phone. A good and open conversation about Greece’s challenges. I invited him to present his policy plans in the next Eurogroup in Helsinki,” Centeno tweeted.

Greece will round off its 2019 borrowing with 7-year bond issue, the first under the new government. In a statement to the Athens Stock Exchange, the Public Debt Management Agency yesterday named the lead managers in the latest sale: Barclays, BofA Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Nomura, and Societe Generale. The PDMA is reportedly aiming to complete the year’s borrowing targets from the market _ following the issue of 5-year and 10-year bonds earlier this year.

The latest tender for Public Power Corporation’s coal-fired units has been officially scrapped due to lack of investor interest, in the latest setback for the utility. The process for the lignite units at  Meliti and Megalopolis fell apart for the second time. PPC’s board will be briefed on Thursday on the developments that are also being closely watched by Greece’s creditors as well as the new government which is keen to push delayed privatisation projects forward.

Piraeus Bank, Greece’s largest lender, has announced a voluntary departure programme aimed at saving EUR 150 million in operating costs over three years. The bank said the programme would provide lump-sum payments and vocational retraining options, as well as childcare support and a family assistance scheme.

On our Radar: Creditors in Athens for Ecomomist’s conference
Top officials involved in Greece’s adjustment programmes and ongoing surveillance are in Greece to attend the Economist’s Conference at the seaside resort of Lagonisi. The Athens Digest’s John Papageorgiou will moderate a discussion with Hans Vijlbrief, president of the  Euro Working Group and George Chouliarakis, the former alternate finance minister. Also present will be the ESM’s Klaus Regling, Declan Costello, Greece mission chief for the European Commission, Peter Dohlman, the IMF mission chief for Greece, and IMF Nicola Giammarioli, the ESM’s mission chief for Greece.