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Eurozone banks body in 'close contact' with Greek counterparts

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The eurozone's body for dealing with failing banks said on Tuesday it was in close contact with Greek regulators as the country's banks face tough times.

[LONDON] The eurozone's body for dealing with failing banks said on Tuesday it was in close contact with Greek regulators as the country's banks face tough times.

"Greek banks are living in a challenging economic environment," Elke Koenig, chairman of the Single Resolution Board (SRB), told the European Parliament.

"But the promising part of that is they have a very engaged and very active resolution team. We are in close contact with our Greek colleagues," she added.

Ms Koenig said the Greek authorities are responsible for dealing with any national banking failure this year, although the SRB will be in charge of any collapses among the top four Greek banks from next year.

From next January, the SRB will be responsible for dealing with any failures among the eurozone's top 150 lenders.

Greek banks were some of the biggest decliners among European equities on Monday and suffered deposit outflows of about 400 million euros as the pace of daily withdrawals picked up from last week, bankers said.

Last week rating agency Standard & Poor's cut its ratings on several banks across Europe but Ms Koenig said she was "not concerned" about this.

The downgrade reflected a belief at the rating agency that governments won't be willing to bail out banks if they get into trouble, she said.

"It's reflecting they really believe in bail-in," Ms Koenig said, referring to new rules that force a bank to hold bigger capital and debt cushions to shield taxpayers from having to intervene in a crisis.

The SRB is looking for temporary financing to deal with any bank collapse until a levy on lenders over eight years creates a permanent 55 billion euro fund.

"We are now focusing on bridge funding. Private solutions as of now are only of very limited availability. Public solutions, we have looked into various options," Ms Koenig said.

The SRB could get credit lines from banks for up to a billion euros and tap markets for a further to 5 to 15 billion euros, she said.

Despite eurozone finance ministers agreeing in 2013 that a "last resort" public financing arrangement should be in place, no such arrangement exists yet, Ms Koenig added.

Additionally, only seven countries have put into national law the new EU rules that make available the tools needed by resolution authorities like the SRB to deal with failed banks.

REUTERS