As part of these events, the Bank’s management visited Thessaloniki: the team was headed by CEO Nicolaos Nanopoulos and included Nicolaos Karamouzis, economic advisor, H. Kyrkos, General Manager, Operations, B. Ballis, General Manager, Retail Banking, Ch. Sorotos, General Manager, Wholesale Banking, S. Kapralos, Managing Director of EFG Balkan Investments SA, and senior executives of the Bank. The management team visited branches in the Thessaloniki area and held working meetings with executives of the northern Greek regional management. There were also meetings with representatives of the business world. The events closed with a concert given by La Camerata - Orchestra of the Friends of Music, which is exclusively sponsored by EFG Eurobank. At a press conference for media representatives, Mr Nanopoulos and the Bank’s executives presented the Bank's strategy, activities and plans for further development in the BalkansMr Nanopoulos noted that the Bank had opened its first branch in Thessaloniki in 1995, since which time EFG Eurobank has grown rapidly in northern Greece. It now has four regional units in the area, with 41 branches from Orestias to Kastoria. Eight more branches will open this year. There are also five PYEPs (Regional Business Credit Centres), and the bank employs approximately 600 persons - all new jobs in a vital part of Greece. The full range of products and services provided by EFG Eurobank in all areas of activity is now available through this network. Given the prospect of the merger of EFG Eurobank with Ergobank, which has a network of 27 branches in the area and is shortly to open three more, the total network of the group in northern Greece will consist of approximately 80 branches staffed by more than 1,000 employees. The CEO of Eurobank referred in greater detail to the process of merger with Ergobank. The two banks are already co-operating closely in a number of sectors, including:
In connection with the regional orientation of EFG Eurobank, Mr Nanopoulos had this to say: "We firmly believe that one of the most important advantages we can develop as an economy is our potential to evolve into a powerful regional market and the gateway of Europe to the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Black Sea, despite the problems of political and economic instability in those countries, which we are sure will ultimately be overcome. Northern Greece is the best possible springboard and 'natural environment' for economic and business activities on a wider scale. The banks have a dual role to play, being active in their own right as entrepreneurial units in these new markets and, above all, serving as aids and catalysts to private-sector business activity. Within this framework, EFG Eurobank has co-operated with its affiliated firm Global Finance to set up two venture capital funds which are already extremely successful in the countries in question, providing venture capital and know-how to help Greek firms which are interested in the area. The EFG Eurobank group has already taken an important step forward with the acquisition, in collaboration with the American AIG group, of Bulgarian Post Bank, the commercial bank with the second-largest network in Bulgaria. To date, this undertaking has produced positive results and prospects for the future look very bright."