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RBS selling shipping loans portfolio

Athens government backs new austerity plan on Greek debt

Alex TsiprasThe Athens government voted in favour of a new package of austerity measures last night in a move that may secure an urgently needed bail-out but risks a backlash from the public.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (left) secured cross-party support and said he now had a “strong mandate” to enter talks with Greece’s creditors.

The move coincided with a report that Royal Bank of Scotland intends selling its £3 billion portfolio of shipping loans in Greece. The move, reported by the Reuters news agency, is part of a wider strategy by RBS to shrink its international operations. The bank has been one of the world’s biggest lenders to the shipping industry.

The Athens government wants a three-year bailout loan of close to €54bn (£40bn) and in exchange will accept a series of measures including cuts to pensions and higher VAT.

The package recommended by parliament not only defies those who voted against austerity in Sunday’s referendum, it is also tougher than the one rejected. Mr Tsipras’s Syriza party was elected on a strong anti-austerity platform.

However, without a deal Greece risks being kicked out of the eurozone and retaining its membership of the single currency has become a priority for Mr Tsipras.

Eurozone ministers will discuss the proposals today and a meeting of heads of government is scheduled for Sunday to be followed by a full EU summit later in the day. Any agreement would then require ratification by EU states.

Greek bond yields rose and the euro surged on the more optimistic outlook. But German yields rose as markets accepted that it is likely to shoulder the burden of any new rescue deal. French president Francois Hollande expressed his support for the package.

 

 

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