Brussels, 27 July 2012
State aid: Commission temporarily approves aid for Greek Nea Proton Bank and opens in-depth investigation
The European Commission has temporarily approved, under EU state aid rules, €1.7 billion of public support granted in the context of the resolution of Proton Bank. The Commission has temporarily approved the measure until it reaches a final decision on the restructuring plan of Nea Proton Bank, the new legal entity created by the operation. At the same time, the Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the measure is in line with EU state aid rules. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties the possibility to submit comments on the measures. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
On 9 October 2011, Proton Bank was resolved and its banking licence withdrawn. A series of assets and liabilities was transferred to a newly created entity, Nea Proton Bank (a so called "bridge bank"). Since not all assets were transferred and since the transferred assets were valued at their fair value, the opening balance sheet of Nea Proton Bank has more liabilities than assets. The gap was filled by a contribution from the Hellenic Deposit and Investment Guarantee Fund ("HDIGF") and the initial capital of Nea Proton Bank was provided by the resolution arm of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund ("HFSF").
The Commission concluded that the €1.122 billion contribution by the HDIGF which is equivalent to a grant as it will not be reimbursed, and the €0.55 billion capital injection by the HFSF on which no profitable return can be expected, are state aid. These measures served to rescue the economic activities of the former Proton Bank, which will continue in a new legal entity, Nea Proton Bank. These activities would otherwise have disappeared.
The Greek authorities have submitted a restructuring plan for Nea Proton Bank, based on a standalone business model.
At this stage, the Commission has doubts whether the submitted restructuring plan will restore the viability of Nea Proton in the long term without continued state support, and whether this is the least costly solution.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.34488 (2012 /NN) in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues are resolved. New publications of State aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.