NICOSIA, Cyprus – Cyprus' biggest bank said Thursday it has fully repaid 11.4 billion euros ($11.9 billion) of emergency cash it received from its eurozone partners to stay afloat during a 2013 banking crisis.
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The Bank of Cyprus hailed the development as another "significant milestone" in its return to health. It said it achieved this through several ways, including shedding unwanted assets and operations, raising the bank's cash reserves and wooing back depositors.
CEO John Patrick Hourican said this signifies the normalization of the bank's funding structure. He said it also sends the message that the lender is becoming a "stronger, safer and more focused institution capable of delivering appropriate shareholder returns over the medium term."
Cyprus Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said this also indicates a return of confidence to the island's banking system.
Most of the emergency cash support — called Emergency Liquidity Assistance, or ELA — was transferred to the Bank of Cyprus under the bailout's terms from Cyprus' second-largest lender Laiki, which was shuttered.
Cyprus wrapped up its three-year rescue program in March. The program included a seizure of savings over 100,000 euros in the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki. The seized deposits were used to prop up the country's wobbly banking sector.