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Why top investors are betting on Bank of Cyprus

Cyprus economy resilient: Bank of Cyprus CEO
Cyprus economy resilient: Bank of Cyprus CEO

The chief executive of the Bank of Cyprus - which made history when it seized depositors' money during the financial crisis – has told CNBC the lender is back on its feet.

"We've moved the story from: 'Will this bank survive?' to: 'What's it worth?'," Bank of Cyprus CEO John Hourican told CNBC on Friday.

"And we're doing that step by step, piece by piece, bringing back liquidity and bringing back capital…We think the story is exciting, provided the macro-economics work."

Cyprus has been battling an economic slump compounded by the collapse of its financial system in 2013. However after four years of recession, the country's central bank governor earlier this week forecast 0.5 percent growth in 2015.

Hourican – who is no stranger to embattled banks, having served as the head of the U.K.'s RBS' investment bank between 2008 and 2013 - said that Cyprus' economy was "more resilient than was expected."

He said the economy is beating forecasts set by the so-called "troika" of the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission.

"In fact the government has been doing a great job in getting the country back to a Maastricht-compliant position and in fact there's a primary surplus in 2014," Hourican added.

Read MoreECB tests tougher than expected: Cyprus minister

"There is an expectation of a modest return to growth next year which would make it one of the fastest and most nimble returns to recovery in the euro zone."

Making headlines

Hourican took on something of a poisoned chalice when he became head of the Bank of Cyprus in October 2013. The bank made headlines during the collapse of the Cypriot financial system in 2013 after its recapitalization efforts saw it seize depositors' uninsured savings above 100,000 euros ($120,000).

Read MoreCyprus clinches last-minute bailout deal

It helped the country to secure a 10 billion euro bailout overseen by the troika, but not before another of the country's financial behemoths, the Cyprus Popular Bank, was wound down.

Since then, the Bank of Cyprus has seemingly undergone a radical turnaround, with a number of heavyweight investors at the center of its operations. Its new board includes former Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Josef Ackermann and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross.

This summer, the bank raised 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) by selling shares at 0.24 cents apiece to international investors, including Ross. Those whose deposits were co-opted into saving the bank also received shares as compensation for the loss of their savings.

Bank of Cyprus turnaround promising: Wilbur Ross
Bank of Cyprus turnaround promising: Wilbur Ross

Ross told CNBC in late November that the new board positioned the bank for "the next stage of its turnaround" and explained why he believed the bank was well-positioned to succeed.

"We elected a whole new board, mostly picked by international investors including myself who had bought the billion euros of new equity a few months ago….(and) it was meant to position the bank for the next stage of its turnaround," he said.

"I think Cyprus has a very good potential for turnaround if for no other reason than it has tremendous natural gas reserves…given that it has few than a million people in population, this could have a dramatic impact on its economy."

CEO Hourican added that this financial backing meant its survival was assured.

"We're well capitalised, (we have) a clear track record of deleveraging, we have a set of world-class governance standards and we're asking you to come in at this point at 0.24 cents (a share), he said. "We're not saying come in and overpay for the stock, we're saying come in and ride this back to value."

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld