Cyprus Business Now

Cyprus Business Now

International credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) this week upgraded the long-term credit rating of the Bank of Cyprus to BB+ with a positive outlook.

This upgrade follows S&P’s recent upgrade of Cyprus’ sovereign credit rating last Friday, which also received a positive outlook.

In addition, the agency explained that the upgrade reflects the bank’s strengthened capital position and robust profit-generating capacity, along with the reduced economic risks in Cyprus.

“We have upgraded Bank of Cyprus and its parent company BOC Holdings based on our assessment that the group’s capitalisation has improved,” S&P stated in a report released on Tuesday evening.

The government on Wednesday announced it had extended the electricity subsidy until the end of October, meaning it will have been in place for exactly a year upon its currently set expiry date.

The subsidy will cover residential, commercial and industrial consumers’ bills until October 31. The government estimates that the subsidy’s extension will cost €12 million and will cover 400,000 households and 100,000 businesses.

The subsidy rates are based on consumption, with the most vulnerable customers qualifying for a 100 per cent subsidy on any increases in the basic tariff, while consumption over a bimonthly rate of 800 kilowatt hours (kWh) is not subsidised at all.

The rest of the subsidy is calculated on a sliding scale for residential customers.

The Cypriot government is in the “final stage” of its quest to secure visa-free travel for its citizens to the United States, President Nikos Christodoulides said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, he hailed the “historic nature and importance” of the strategic discourse established between the Cypriot and American governments and called on his cabinet to work for the agreement’s implementation.

“It impacts many ministries, many issues, such as energy, security, trade, attracting investment, research and technology and culture, so everyone’s cooperation is needed,” he said.

Speaking after the meeting, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis explained that one of the final hurdles Cyprus has to clear is the rate at which the US currently rejects visa applications made by Cypriot nationals.

International credit rating agency Moody’s this week announced that it has initiated a review for a possible upgrade of all ratings and assessments of Hellenic Bank.

According to the announcement, this move comes as a result of the bank’s improved financial profile and Eurobank S.A.’s acquisition of a majority stake.

The agency explained that it has placed several of Hellenic Bank’s ratings on review, including its Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) and Adjusted BCA of ba2, and its long-term and short-term deposit ratings of Baa3/Prime-3.

“The review for upgrade will consider the degree to which strengthened profitability and capital metrics, and continued reductions in its legacy asset quality risks, have enhanced the bank’s solvency profile,” said Moody’s in a statement.

What is more, the review will also evaluate Eurobank S.A.’s strategic plans following its 55.5 per cent acquisition of Hellenic Bank and its potential to support Hellenic Bank in times of need.

The Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) this week revised its forecast for the country’s GDP growth in 2024 to 3 per cent, up from the 2.8 per cent predicted in March, primarily due to increased domestic demand.

However, the forecasts for 2025 and 2026 remain unchanged at 3.1 per cent and 3.2 per cent, respectively.

“The GDP revision for 2024 is conservative, considering the strong economic results of the first quarter of this year, while also reflecting economic uncertainty due to the fragile external environment,” stated the CBC in its June 2024 macroeconomic projections for the Cypriot economy for the years 2024-2026.

At the same time, the CBC has slightly lowered its unemployment rate forecast for 2024 by 0.1 percentage points to 5.7 per cent, while maintaining its projections for 2025 and 2026.

Cyprus has seen a slight improvement in IMD’s world competitiveness rankings, moving from 45th to 43rd place among 67 evaluated countries, according to an announcement by the University of Cyprus’ Economics Research Centre (CypERC).

The research centre, along with the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation (Oev), collaborates with the IMD World Competitiveness Centre of the IMD Business School in Switzerland, in the context of this evaluation.

The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2024, which evaluates the competitiveness of 67 economies, highlighted that Cyprus’ improvement this year is mainly attributed to a significant enhancement in economic performance, primarily due to increased flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country.

The Republic of Cyprus has drawn offers totalling €9.6 billion from international markets for its newly issued 7-year bond worth €1 billion, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Cyprus News Agency (CNA). The book of offers has now closed.

Initially, the book opened with guidance from the issuance advisors set at 60 basis points above the benchmark rate (mid-swaps).

However, as the book of offers approached €7 billion, the guidance narrowed to 55 basis points above the benchmark rate, with the yield settling at 3.295 per cent. The final pricing is expected to be announced later.

Alongside the new bond issuance, a capped offer was announced for the early repayment of up to €500 million from an existing bond worth €1.5 billion, which carries an interest rate of 2.375 per cent and matures in September 2028. The repurchase price is set at 98.4 per cent of the original amount.

The Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) ended Wednesday, June 19 with losses.

The general Cyprus Stock Market Index was at 164.53 points at 12:44 during the day, reflecting a decrease of 0.3 per cent over the previous day of trading.

The FTSE / CySE 20 Index was at 100.07 points, representing a drop of 0.32 per cent.

The total value of transactions came up to €60,643, until the aforementioned time during trading.

In terms of the sub-indexes, the main and investment firm indexes fell by 0.64 per cent and 2.54 per cent respectively. The hotel index remained stable while the alternative index rose by 0.32 per cent.

The biggest investment interest was attracted by Demetra (-2.56 per cent), Hellenic Bank (no change), Logicom (no change), Petrolina (+2.73 per cent), and Tsokkos Hotels (+5 per cent).

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