With advanced technological infrastructures, including the ever-growing network of branches, Marfin Popular Bank Group is equipped with officers assisting the group's vision to become one of the largest and most successful banking organisations in Southeast Europe. Marfin Egnatia Bank (MEB) is part of Marfin Popular Bank Group, which also owns the second largest bank in Cyprus. Marfin Popular Bank Group provides a spectrum of banking services through 527 branches located in Cyprus, Greece, the UK, Guernsey, Australia, Malta, and in South East Europe (Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Estonia and Serbia). MEB operates 188 branches in Greece.
MEB itself is committed to providing constant support to its clientele, applying innovative and flexible methods, to fulfill any requirements; the strategy followed ensures a fast, reliable, integrated and immediate service for the full satisfaction of all customers, leaving none wanting.
The goal is simple and straightforward; to establish a leading position in the Greek banking industry and deliver strong shareholder value creation reflected on sustained ROEs above 25 percent. MEB aims to expand its overall market share from approximately five percent currently, to seven percent over the next three years through leveraging up the bank's rapidly expanding infrastructure, further penetrating retail lending and capitalising on the bank's strengths in key product areas. MEB generates a sustainable competitive advantage through introducing a relevant differentiation from the competition; its key characteristics describe it as people-centric, demand driver; truly a citizens brand.
The Greek shipping industry
The evolution of Greek society and culture has been intricately linked with the sea, an event traceable through the ages in a multitude of forms whether it is within the realms of mythology or actual historical fact. It is precisely this bond which keeps the notion of shipping a tradition, for which a soft spot exists in the Greek psyche. In reality, understanding this connection is not only feasible through a romanticised view of the past, but can be put into numerical facts; for the past two years, shipping has been the most significant contributor to the Greek economy, surpassing the tourism sector and bringing in more than $26bn each year in foreign currency.
Currently the third largest fleet worldwide, provides an invaluable source to tap into, and MEB is perfectly positioned to dive in and access the shipping community through Marfin Investment Group's stake in the Attica Group.
Products on offer
MEB has a dedicated shipping division to cater specifically for this type of client; on offer one finds a broad range of products aiming to cover its clients' short as well as long term products. The former is mainly offered for purposes of working capital requirements in a form of overdraft facilities.
Long term needs are offered in large part to cater for financing a vessel acquisition, or a construction of a newbuilding unit. The norm for the duration is around two to 15 years; however this varies on a case-by-case basis, as the main determining factors are the type, age and employment of any vessel in question, in conjunction with the prevailing market conditions at the time. New building finance occupies a large chunk of this type of loan, as the Greek clientele is an eager member of the sales and purchases market. The trick is to strike the correct balance, keeping all parties satisfied, particularly when considering that the owner of the hull under construction needs to participate with own equity.
Bridge financing is also available; its purpose is to assist customers with their special medium term working capital needs, usually spanning between three and 12 months, such as repairs or conversions of vessels. Furthermore, MEB offers letters of guarantee of all types, which may have a set date of expiration, or if required and prudent be open-ended.
It would be a mistake to assume that the variety and expedience of all that the shipping division has to offer could be attained without the right people in the right places. The bank personnel posses an excellent understanding of the shipping industry, including its quirks, peculiarities and trends putting them in the best position to adopt forward analytical and synthetic thinking patterns, in order to anticipate and accommodate specific client needs; a view of their track record provides quick confirmation to this fact with an aggregate experience exceeding 250 years. The generation of fresh ideas and alternative solutions, particularly when considering this specific industry, is not so much a desirable quality as a necessity; this ability combined with familiarisation with other departments and their products, is a key distinguishing factor in attaining their desired results.
MEB itself is characterised by its strongly entrepreneurial and internationally oriented management team; adding the synergies realised following the three way merger to the concoction, provides a powerful recipe for success, in terms of resources as well as knowledge including everyday know-how. The entire client-centric approach presented, is founded on the key element of differentiation, a strategy based on four pillars namely product offering, service provided, capacity and a deep understanding of clients needs.
Customisation of the products on offer, tailored to fit each case specifically is high on the list of priorities, both for the benefit of the client, i.e. getting a personalised service, as well as for the interests of the bank, ensuring a smooth repayment of any facility provided. If these were not enough, MEB's shipping division stays one step ahead of its clients, ensuring flexibility as well as the capacity to cover non-shipping investment needs, applying cross-benefit techniques that enhance the experience for all involved.
The phrase “time is money” is expressive of the fast pace maintained by all industries and markets. A key distinguishing factor for MEB is the ability to provide quick and accurate responses to their client's request, whilst still maintaining and allowing the opportunity for any client requiring advisory services.
Power of tradition
This bank has intentionally kept a low profile in the shipping finance market, utilising client relationships as the main basis for the shipping divisions marketing. In today's world of gimmicks, bells and whistles, one might be surprised to find out that the majority of shipping finance business is directly originated through sales and credit officers, proving the bank's strong track record in the business via establishing long term loyal client relationships; a methodology which certainly follows in line with the more traditional nature of the industry as a whole. The notion that this way of promoting still holds the ability to not only keep any business afloat, but further push a financial institution forward, particularly when considering the hurdles presented by the ongoing crisis, both in terms of growth and client base, is a testament to the broad range of high quality product range and offered services MEB has the ability to provide.
At present, the shipping department boasts a large clientele list, including significant names not only in the Greek but in the worldwide shipping community, catering for more than 130 vessels. Between 2006 and 2007 alone, the total portfolio increased a staggering 82.7 percent, whilst at the same time presenting improved quality in all aspects, including higher profitability, younger tonnage, lower LTV ratio and a more selective customer base. Today's total portfolio totals more than $1.5bn, a figure which is exclusive of any commitments and newbuildings, implying a much larger true value.
Dimitris Gialouris, Shipping Manager says what makes MEB's Shipping Division stand out is “the ability to provide a comprehensive range of financial products to the shipping industry together with the capacity to provide alternative financing solutions through flexible and in many cases tailor-made structured financing products to allow for the provision of added value and higher customer satisfaction”.