12° Nicosia,
30 May, 2024

Gatzke-Hellenic relations have returned to normal

Currently, Gatzke and the bank want to complete the remainder of his contract

Panayiotis Rougalas

Panayiotis Rougalas

After taking a brief leave of absence, Hellenic Bank CEO Oliver Gatske has returned to his duties. Mr. Gatske was given the green light to return to his office on Monday after the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Although the atmosphere was "heavy" when the investigation into possible manipulation of Hellenic Bank shares was announced, the skies over the bank are now clearer. On Mr. Gatske's return to the bank, the mood was as if the suspension had never transpired, as if nothing had happened. At this point, there is a desire on the part of both the German and the bank to see his contract expire. Mr. Gatzke's contract was for three years, so he will remain CEO for the next year and a half in good faith and with goodwill on both sides.  At this point, the near future will reveal what those in banking circles know and if the relationship between the bank and CEO will break.  However, the incident involving the possible manipulation of the bank's share price is thought to be over for both the bank and the CEO. There was a change in Hellenic's main shareholders during the interim period that Mr. Gatzke was absent. Eurobank became the largest shareholder with 26%, which may have rebalanced the bank's balance and lifted the clouds that had been gathering.

Contract and three-year plan

At Hellenic, CEO Oliver Gatzke faces a number of challenges that he must manage for the duration of his tenure. The one he will be immediately tasked with managing is the renewal of Hellenic Bank's collective bargaining agreement, which is an open and difficult point for the bank beginning in 2018. Meanwhile, discussions on the collective agreement with the bank's interim CEO, Petros Arsalidis, continued. The chapter on the extension of the collective bargaining agreement between the guilds and the Hellenic Bank has in fact developed into a "lousy miniseries" and ought to be successfully finished at some point.

The bank's three-year strategic plan for 2023-2026 is one of the next tasks to be completed. This chapter should be completed by the end of the year or early next year, and the bank's course should be on track.

The CEO's primary focus for the bank going forward will be to continue the bank's digital transformation. In addition to the labor issues that Mr. Gatske has been focusing on, he is expected to focus on further digitalizing the Bank.

Gatzke's recommendation
The issue of creating an association where banks would manage their collective agreements holistically rather than individually is expected to be discussed with a Gatzke proposal. Until 2015, this was how collective agreements were renewed, but former Bank of Cyprus CEO John Patrick Hourican was not on board, and the association that dealt with these issues was disbanded.

[This article was first published in Kathimerini's Oikonomiki edition and translated from its Greek original]

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