Alpha Bank aims to lift its share of Cyprus lending market by 1% annually through the next couple of years, lifting its overall share of loans from the current 10.4% to 12-13%, according to Chairman of the Bank Yiannis Costopoulos.
Speaking at a press conference in Nicosia on the occasion of his visit to the island where he held important meetings with high ranking officials, Costopoulos praised Alpha Bank’s Cyprus General Manager Costas Kokkinos and the Bank’s staff for their exceptional achievement in helping make “Alpha Bank one of the big four in Cyprus.”
Alpha Bank first entered the Cyprus market through the takeover of the operations of Lombard NatWest Bank in 1998. During the past nine years, the Bank has made significant inroads and is one of the market leaders.
The number of staff are up from 310 in 1998 to 614 now, the branch network is relatively stable having increased from 24 in 1998 to 28 by end of 2006 and the share of loans is up from 4.1% in 1998 to 10.2% end of 2006 and 10.4% first quarter of 2007. Total deposits end of 2006 amounted to CYP 1.25 bln (EUR 2.15 bln) while total advances were end of 2006 at CYP 1.2 bln of which housing loans amounted to CYP 304 mln.
“We are growing and we wish to accelerate our growth plans in the next couple of years through the expansion of our branch network to 40, and lift our market share by 1% annually to around 12-13% in the next couple of years,” said Spyros Filaretos, Alpha Bank’s Cyprus Chairman.
Filaretos added that due to Alpha Bank’s integrated systems and the emphasis on service, the Bank had one of the lowest cost-to-income ratios in the Cyprus banking market. Unofficial sources claim the ratio is below 40% approaching 35%.
Alpha Bank Chairman said Cyprus is a role model for the Group when it expands into other countries and its share of profits to overall Group profits is “very significant.”
Costopoulos said in the event that the two major banks in Cyprus proceed with a full merger, then “it may help the next big banks such as Alpha Bank grab more customers.”
Commenting on the arrival of Greek banks to Cyprus – Eurobank will open two branches --, Costopoulos said “I wonder why they are so late to come here.” He said the Cyprus market, despite its small size is highly competitive and has growth opportunities considering that the country will soon adopt the euro.
“We want to be well prepared to seize the new opportunities as they occur,” said Costopoulos who insists that Alpha Bank will grow organically without takeovers and with emphasis on electronic banking, its strong support staff and new and innovative products and services.