Greece to Offer $10 Billion to Help Banks Cut Down Bad DebtBy Nikos ChrysolorasandSotiris Nikas
Greece plans to provide as much as 9 billion euros ($10 billion) in state guarantees to help its banks reduce a mountain of soured debt weighing on their balance sheets, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
The initiative, similar to a successful program used in Italy, depends on antitrust officials in Europe ruling that it doesn’t constitute illegal state aid. A decision by the European Commission is expected over the next few weeks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.
Banks in Greece, Europe’s most indebted country, hold some 75 billion euros in soured debt, boosting costs for provisions and restricting their ability to generate new loans. The guarantee program, known as an asset protection scheme, could cut that down by at least 20 billion euros, the government estimated when the plan was first floated about a year ago.