THE BULGARIAN BANK SYSTEM IS BEING TRANSFORMED
Panayotis Varelas, CEO of Bulgarain Post Bank, to the BANKER weeklyMr. Varelas, some replacements have been recently made in the Management Board of Bulgarian Post Bank. Would you specify the reasons?- When I assumed office in Bulgarain Post Bank its Management Board consisted of eight memebrs. Two of them had been working for the credit institution for almost ten years. The bank's founder Vladimir Vladimirov is one of them. The aim was to gradually replace them by other Bulgarians. Theodoros Karakasisi was initially appointed as Deputy Chairman of the Management Board, and I was the other new member. Some Bulgarians had to be included in the managerial team as per our promise. This is the reason for all the replacements.Why did the CEO Oliver Whittle resign?- Mr. Whittle's contract was about to expire and he wanted to search for new career opportunities. Therefore, we agreed to relieve him of his duties some 2-3 months before the expiration of his contract. On the other hand, we kept our promise to the bank's employees to appoint a Bulgarian to his post as head of the Liquidity Department. Therefore, he was succeeded by Assen Yagodin. A meeting of the Management Board will be held next week, at which we'll discuss the candidacies for the second Bulgarian, to be included in the bank's managerial team.Do you already know all the members of the Management Board?- Yes. The Board includes: Mr. Karakasis, me - as CEO, Konstantinos Konstantelos, Atanasios Petropoulos, Assen Yagodin, David Barton, and Anastasios Omiridis, who will join the managerial team at the meeting, scheduled for next week. He has alerady received the necessary documents for that from the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB).A year ago the members of the bank's Supervisory Board announced that a Bulgarian will be appointed Chairman of its Management Board. Do you already know his name?- We are still looking for the proper candidate. According to us, this position is indeed the most important in the bank and we'd like to find the ideal person for it. We have so far discussed for candidates, but we have not made a final decision yeat. This may be done next week.What results has the bank achieved since you took over its management?- The achievements are not only due to my assuming the post, but also to the new priorities we have set. Last year we made efforts in the sphere of crediting mostly, both to companies and private persons. In fact, we succeeded to exceed the planned aggregate number of extended loans. We increased considerably the deposits in Bulgarian levs and in foreign currencies. The revenues are fair and the results are much better than those of the previosu year. We'll be able to make them public next week after the meeting of the Management Board.Would you specify the amount by which the credits have increased?- The amount exceeds BGN300MN. Last year our credit portfolio totalled BGN190MN, so the increase is about 60-70 per cent. The bank's new target for 2002 is to complete the construction of the unified informational system for Bulgaria. Our branches, offices, and working position around the country are quite a lot, and this is a way to improve the services to our clients. We'll consurrently resorganize our branches and their modernization should be completed within three years.Of course, we have also set as our task to enter the group of the best banks according to BNB's rating. This means that the amount of Bulgarain Post Bank's assets will to raised to BGN800MN. According to me, we'll satisfy the criteria and join the best banks' club this year. We should also have to improve some financial coefficients, such as the return on shareholder capital, which used to be below 3-4 per cent. This indicator for the fiscal 2001 is much better. We'll also aim to improve the return on assets, as well as the ratio between proceeds and expenditures, which is a very important financial indicator. We intend to achieve significat savings this year by the better control on expenditures as a result of the introduction of the new infromational system and the efficient organization of the bank's branches.