The departure of the German with “garden leave” – The “old acquaintance”, Mr. Rouvas, takes over
Mr. Gatzke was cleared of charges that he had allegedly encouraged staff during an event to buy Hellenic shares.
By Panagiotis Rougalas
Hellenic Bank announced that it has received notice from its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Oliver Gatzke, that he has decided to terminate his employment contract with the Bank effective July 22, 2024. According to Mr. Gatzke's employment contract, the Hellenic has decided to place Mr. Gatzke on mandatory leave (garden leave) with full benefits, with immediate effect.
The cracks in the glass between Mr. Gatzke and Hellenic Bank failed to “re-glue” after his return in December 2022. The divorce between the company and the German banker, however, this time was “velvet”, since he will continue to be paid under his contract, just as he would have been had he continued to be at the helm of the Bank. The tense atmosphere between some major shareholders of the Bank and itself was also evident at the last Annual General Meeting, at the beginning of the summer. There was a “controversy” between the major shareholder “Dimitras Investments” and the CEO, as complaints about his actions monopolized the Annual Meeting. It was a “second act” of complaints, after a year when a lot happened with Mr. Gatzke. His resume was tarnished by the investigation process initiated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CSE) into whether he manipulated the shares of Hellenic Bank. But Mr Gatzke was cleared of charges that he had allegedly encouraged staff at an event to buy Hellenic shares. The examination of this fact, apart from abstaining from his duties for about 2 months, had only one result. The German's relations with the bank's shareholders broke down and from then on, their “days” of cooperation were numbered. This is how it happened and this “velvet” divorce was decided on August 1, 2023. Banking sources commented that the surprise was that he returned to his duties in December 2022 after examining the unfortunate incident and not that it was now decided to separate the streets of the bank and the German ex-CEO. Finally, as noted by the same sources familiar with the situation, it was “whispered” that the German would not renew his contract, but without the decision to make a “velvet divorce” so early.
The German had some good points, apart from some bad ones, in his two-year career at Hellenic Bank and he deserves recognition.
What did he achieve?
Apart from any criticism of Germanos' actions during the last 2 years at the helm of Hellenic Bank, while he was at the helm of Hellenic Bank, the bank managed to reduce employees, stores, complete a large sale of loans (Starlight), and also record enough profits. Yes, the circumstances and the economic climate helped in some events (milestones), such as the one with profits and interest rates, but if we look at it “narrowly”, under the leadership of Mr. Gatzke, 2-3 important steps were taken that gave the Bank a boost.
But because there are two sides to every coin, the German failed (and possibly his biggest mistake) to negotiate bloodlessly with the Union of Bank Employees of Cyprus (ETYK). When he came to the bank he made big statements in relation to the guild and clashed and did not bring any substantial result. Be that as it may, the German had some good points, apart from some bad ones, in his two-year career at Hellenic Bank and he deserves to be recognized.
He vacated a position in Board
By leaving the position of CEO and taking over the position of CEO of the Company's Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Antonis Rouvas, one position remains vacant on Hellenic's Board of Directors. As is well known, Mr. Rouvas already held a position on the Board of Directors and it is not unlikely that in the next period we will see it filled by a member representing the interests of the major shareholder, Eurobank. While Eurobank has 29.2% of the company's share capital, it still does not have a seat on the Board of Directors of Hellenic Bank.
Rouvas at the helm
Mr. Antonis Rouvas, Chief Financial Officer of Hellenic, has been appointed as Interim Chief Executive Officer, while Ms. Maria Kelesi, Chief Accountant of Hellenic, has been appointed as Interim Chief Financial Officer.
The climate for Mr. Rouvas is very good, he has the full support of the shareholders and the Board of Directors. He was the one who worked hard enough to successfully close 'Project Starlight' for the sale of the large NPL package and APS. Mr. Rouvas knows the Bank very well, having served as the Group's Chief Financial Officer from 2008 until the beginning of 2017, he left, and has since been re-appointed as Executive Member of the Board of Directors/Chief Financial Officer of Hellenic in 2021.
Profit of 111 million in Eurobank from 29.2% in Hellenic
Eurobank's adjusted pre-tax profit for the half of 2023 stood at €712m and adjusted net profit at €599m. Earnings per share amounted to 0.18 euros and the return on tangible equity amounted to 17.9%. As noted in Eurobank's financial results announced on July 31, 2023, the total net profits amounted to 684 million euros, compared to 941 million euros in the first half of 2022 and mainly include a 111 million profit from the acquisition of a stake in Hellenic Bank of Cyprus . As Eurobank notes, overseas operations were profitable with adjusted net profit rising to €205m in the first half of 2023, from €97m in the first half of 2022. Organic profit before provisions increased by 79.6% and amounted to €233m and organic operating profit before tax increased by 71.5% to €207m in the first half of 2023. “44% of adjusted net profit came from Cyprus operations (adjusted profit €90m) and 49% of them in Bulgaria (adjusted profit 101 million)”, concluded Eurobank.