Greek bank shares tumble amid fears over bad loans

Greek banking shares have fallen sharply amid investor fears over lenders’ needs to reduce their large stock of bad loans resulting from the financial crisis.

The index of bank stocks closed nearly 9 percent lower in Athens on Wednesday. Piraeus Bank led the losses, at 20.7 percent, after reports said it and the National Bank of Greece have pledged to reduce their bad loans more aggressively in coming years.

Reducing bad loans can mean writing off assets and booking losses.

The Athens Stock Exchange’s general index ended the day’s trading session 2.1 percent lower.

Greek banks have needed to be propped up with money from Greece’s bailout loans since 2010. On Monday, the government lifted restrictions on bank withdrawals that were imposed in 2015.

On average, over four out of ten loans issued by Greece’s banks are soured.