Reinforcing entrepreneurship, supporting the effort to restore the economy

Piraeus Bank will continue to strongly support entrepreneurship, even today under the difficult conditions of the fiscal crisis. The Bank's priority is to contribute to the reforming of the Greek economy, the restoration of its growth course and the protection of job positions. It is our duty to continue investing and financing the Greek economy. Since the beginning of 2009 and up to the end of March 2010, we have disbursed over EUR 12.5 billion in new loans.

These were the statements expressed, among others, by Michalis Sallas Piraeus Group's Chairman, at the General Shareholders' Meeting. He also mentioned that Piraeus Group, as well as the whole domestic banking system, will not step back from its investments in the international markets where it has a significant presence. We will keep on supporting the Greek businesses which are active in the Balkan countries and are approximately 5,000, just like other customers (domestic businesses and individuals).

Responding to journalists' questions, Mr Sallas highlighted that the Greek banking system has proven to be one of the healthiest and the strongest banking systems in the financial sector internationally in terms of capital adequacy. He also noted that during the past few weeks there have been signs of deposits inflows to Greek banks, both from abroad and Greece, where cash was presumably kept in safety deposit boxes.

Green investments
Referring to growth and investment potential, Mr. Sallas attributed particular importance to green business, mentioning that the period of the crisis we are experiencing coincides with the demand of society for the environmental protection and the shift of economic activity towards various forms of green entrepreneurship. Greece ought to invest swiftly into this sector, where great opportunities are offered and should not be missed. Piraeus Bank designates its support to green business with a well defined program at its top priority and encourages investors towards this direction. Furthermore, green entrepreneurship adds value and quality to services which are offered from our country, such as tourism.

Mr.Sallas announced that since February and up today, Piraeus Bank has received more than 220 investment proposals for its Green Entrepreneurship and Green Infrastructure program in Industrial Parks. Three of them have been submitted from international enterprises. Piraeus Bank has established a special unit with experienced executives, for the acceptance and evaluation of the particular investment proposals.

Compensation reduction
During the Ordinary General Meeting of Shareholders, Piraeus Bank's Chairman also announced a 23.5% cut on average, regarding the remuneration of the BoD members, who have a contractual association with the Bank, and the Executive Board members for 2010.

Τhe fiscal crisis
During his speech to the Bank's shareholders, Mr. Sallas, pointed out that the unprecedented current crisis can and should be an opportunity for reforms, that will permanently improve the structure and functions of the state and the Greek economy. There are major problems, however I believe that they can be resolved, as long as we show the necessary determination and will. The activation of the support mechanism from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund is expected to bring gradual tranquillity in the markets while the rigorous implementation of the agreed economic policy program is a prerequisite in order for the country to get back on development course, more sustainable and substantial than the past.

Results of 2009
In particular, regarding the results of 2009, Mr. Sallas stated: The profitability of the Group for 2009 was in line with the specific market conditions. Thus, net profit attributable to shareholders, excluding the EUR 34 million one-off tax contribution, amounted to EUR 235 million versus EUR 315 million in 2008. Including this one-off tax expense, net profit for the period amounted to EUR 202 million. Pre-provision profit for 2009 amounted tot EUR 778 million compared to EUR 774 million in 2008 recording a slight increase of 0.5%.

Despite the deteriorating economic environment, the loans in arrears over 90 days ratio according to IFRS, stood at 5.1%and it was the lowest ratio in the Greek market. The coverage ratio (cumulative provisions to loans in arrears) stood at the same level as in 2008 at 51%, while when adjusting for tangible collaterals it was 110%. The Group's capital adequacy was maintained at a very satisfactory level, with the total CAD ratio at 9.8% and Tier I ratio at 9.1%.

At the end of December 2009 the Group's assets amounted to EUR 54.3 billion, net loans to EUR 37.7 billion and deposits with retail bonds to EUR 30.8 billion (both categories reduced by 2%). The number of customers of Piraeus Bank in Greece amounted to 2.2 million (+150,000 new customers from 2008) while including clients of Piraeus Bank Group abroad, the total number of customers at the end of the year exceeded 3.2 million.