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Greek banks take record loss after debt swap deal

Greece's interim Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos, says that transfers from the EU will offset Greek bank losses after their participation in the debt swap deal, which saw banks write down billions of euros.

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A Greek Presidential guard stood behind a Greek flag during a demonstration in Athens on Feb. 9. (Aris Messins/AFP/Getty Images)

Greece's four largest banks posted massive losses Friday, mainly due to their participation in the recent debt swap deal.

National Bank of Greece, Eurobank, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank have reported a combined loss last year of nearly 30 billion euros - 13 percent of Greek gross domestic product.

The losses were expected after their participation in the debt swap deal, which saw European and domestic banks trade old Greek bonds for newer, less valuable ones in what became the largest sovereign restructuring in history.

According to the Associated Press, most affected was the National Bank, the largest Greek lender, which said it lost 12.3 billion euros.

Interim Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is working on a plan to recapitalize Greek banks, which lost more than half the value of their bonds during the swap.

Many analysts have insisted that both Greek and other European banks should be recapitalized with direct cash injections from governments.

“Recapitalization is a necessary prerequisite to securely finance the real economy and in particular small- and medium- sized enterprises,” Papademos said at a conference Friday, said Bloomberg.

“It is also a necessary precondition for reinforcing trust in our bank system.”

It is still unclear how much recapitalization Greek banks will need to spur lending and ensure they do not fail.

"Only when the terms of recapitalization are finalized will we be able to assess the real needs that must be covered," bank officials told Kathimerini.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120421/greek-banks-take-record-loss-after-debt-swap-deal