Bank of Cyprus on the London Stock Exchange

LondonThe Bank of Cyprus (BoC) was listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), yesterday.

For this purpose, in 2016 the Cypriot bank has created Bank of Cyprus Holdings plc in Ireland in order to be considered eligible for inclusion in the FTSE UK index series. On Wednesday, all of the shares comprising the issued share capital of the Bank were cancelled and BoC issued and allotted 8,922,944,533 new ordinary shares of nominal value €0.10 each, essentially reverse splitting them by 20, amounting to 446,199,933 shares, credited as fully paid to Bank of Cyprus Holdings Public Limited Company.

The Bank’s shares on the LSE, coded BOCH, closed at €3.35 with a 4% increase and a volume of €799,376. During the day the Bank’s shares had reached €3.65.

The company’s listing on the LSE was accompanied by a ceremony in the stock exchange building in the City of London.

Present at the ceremony were the chairman of the managing board of the Bank, Josef Ackermann, CEO John Hourican, Cyprus’ High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Evripides Evriviades, and several other bank and stock exchange officials.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) Hourican said: “We made a promise to our shareholders when we raised the additional equity in the late summer of 2014, that we would try to move the listing of the company out of Athens to a major European liquid index driven Exchange. And that’s what we’ve done.”

“So today is the delivery on a promise to our shareholders; but even more importantly than that, it is the first time a Cyprus company of size has been able to list on a major market. We are doing this with the country’s name in our title and we are taking this responsibility very seriously. So, let’s hope it is the beginning of good trading and hopefully the beginning of discovering the value for the stock in this market,” he added.

Asked whether he has set specific targets for what should be the gain from the London listing, the bank’s CEO said that his job is to keep running the company properly, keep making sure that the discussion about quality of the Bank of Cyprus’s balance sheet “is left behind us” and keep the earnings power of the bank intact. “That should express itself in the value of the company at some point when investors realise that that’s what happened,” added Hourican.

Ackermann expressed his satisfaction with the LSE listing, describing it as “another significant step in the Group’s transformation.” As he added, “we expect this listing, on one of the world’s leading international capital markets, to facilitate greater profile, liquidity and access to capital.”

Nikhil Rathi, CEO of the London Stock Exchange plc said: “BOC Holdings’ listing is a milestone for the company and for Cyprus. It demonstrates the Bank’s strong recovery since the financial crisis and underlines London’s ability to help the banking sector recapitalise itself for growth. Its choice of London highlights the City’s ability to support access to funding for companies from around the world, reinforcing its status as a leading global listing venue and dynamic place to do business.”

The fact that the Cypriot bank has picked London at a time when other financial institutions are weighing up their choices ahead of Brexit, has been noted by the UK financial press as a vote of confidence for the British capital.

“I am a believer in the City of London. This is where global capital providers meet those that require capital. It’s where the trading infrastructure is; it’s where all the currencies are. It sits above the UK. The fact that the UK is choosing to exit the EU is one important consideration, but I think London will prevail and we are backing it with our action,” John Hourican told CNA.

Cyprus biggest commercial lender, in dire straits at the peak of the euro zone debt crisis three years ago, was subjected to a “bail-in” of unsecured deposits and a recapitalisation.

Meanwhile, while vice-chairman of BoC, Wilbur Ross is expected to quit his position to become US Commerce Secretary, the company WL Ross & Co will continue to be invested in the bank.

“In response to media reports regarding holdings of Bank of Cyprus group by funds managed by WL Ross & Co. LLC and Wilbur Ross’s role as the Vice-Chairman of Bank of Cyprus Group, should he be confirmed as the Secretary of the US Department of Commerce, WL Ross & Co. LLC confirms that Mr. Ross’s confirmation will not impact the funds’ shareholdings in the Bank,” the company said in a statement.