Cyprus banks to reopen at 1000 GMT Thursday: central bank

Cypriot banks will reopen on Thursday from 1000 GMT to 1600 GMT after being closed for nearly two weeks while the country negotiated an international bailout, the central bank told AFP on Wednesday.

"The banks will serve the public tomorrow from 12 noon to 6pm," spokeswoman Aliki Stylianou said.

A spokesman for the finance ministry also confirmed the banks would reopen.

"I am telling you that all banks are definitely going to open tomorrow," he told AFP.

The Cyprus Union of Bank Employees (ETYK) said staff were ready to go back to work but warned customers not to vent their frustrations on them.

"We must all keep in mind that as bank employees, we are not responsible but, on the contrary, colleagues are themselves victims of criminal acts and/or omissions that led to this destruction and many are in a very tragic situation," an ETYK statement said.

Thousands of bank workers are expected to lose their jobs in the restructuring of the industry, which will see Laiki Bank wound up and Bank of Cyprus, the country's largest lender, restructured.

It was not immediately clear why the banks would not be opening until midday, as the normal time is 8:30 am (0630 GMT).

However, banks will be preparing to implement capital controls imposed by the central bank to prevent a massive flow of cash out of the country and to regulate transactions domestically.

Unconfirmed press reports said earlier on Wednesday that such controls would include a ban on cashing cheques, though these would be accepted for deposit.

Banks have been closed since March 16, although cash machines have been operating with increasingly reduced daily limits.