New legislation in Greece for the management and transfer of non-performing loans (art. 1-3 of Law 4354/2015)
With Greece entering its seventh year of sovereign debt crisis and its banking system under mounting stress, the legislator has recently introduced a secondary market for non-performing loans (NPLs) by virtue of Law 4354/20151 (Law). The Law aims at safeguarding the financial stability of the country by enhancing bank liquidity and facilitating Greek businesses2 currently unable to service their debt. Eligibility Criteria The Law provides for two types of companies: a) companies managing NPLs (NPL Management Companies) and b) companies acquiring NPLs (NPL Transfer Companies and, collectively with the NPL Management Companies, the NPL Companies). A strict regulatory regime is imposed on the NPL Companies, which are required to operate in accordance with the existing Banking Code of Conduct3 and are subject to high professional standards. An NPL Company must be in the form of a corporation (Société Anonyme), seated either in Greece or in the European Economic Area (in the latter case, operating in Greece through a branch). In either case, the management and/or the transfer of NPLs, as the case may be, must be included in the statutory scope of the NPL Company. NPL Companies fall within the licensing and supervisory scope of the Bank of Greece (BoG), which grants them a special operation license (License) after a thorough examination of specific criteria with regard to their capital adequacy, their reliability and the suitability/competency of their management. These standards aim at safeguarding financial stability as well as compliance with the rules on competition and anti-money-laundering legislation. The Law authorizes the BoG to issue an Act (BoG Act) setting out the criteria, conditions and all supporting documentation required for the granting of a License.