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Greece’s largest lender hopes to end its emergency financial aid next year

  • The chief executive officer of Greece's largest lender expects that the emergency liquidity assistance given by the European Central Bank (ECB) will end in 2018
  • Piraeus is one of the Greek credit institutions considered solvent but facing "temporary" liquidity problems due to several years of economic crisis in the region
  • Thus it benefits from the so-called ELA (emergency liquidity assistance), which is credit from the central bank to be used in exceptional circumstances
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The chief executive officer of Greece's largest lender expects that the emergency liquidity assistance given by the European Central Bank (ECB) will end in 2018.

"We have increased our deposits significantly. We are above the year-end of 2016. We reduced the emergency liquidity assistance that the banks are receiving from the ECB as well, and we are looking to take it down to zero by the end of 2018," Christos Megalou, CEO of Piraeus Bank, the country's largest bank by assets, said about the lender's performance this year.

Piraeus is one of the Greek credit institutions considered solvent but facing "temporary" liquidity problems due to several years of economic crisis in the region. Thus it benefits from the so-called ELA (emergency liquidity assistance), which is credit from the central bank to be used in exceptional circumstances.

Megalou said Wednesday that 2018 should be a "good year for the Greek economy."

"I do expect 2 percent GDP (gross domestic product) growth, I do expect the liquidity to increase and emergency liquidity assistance to reduce significantly and this is a positive effect also on the profitability of the banks," Megalou said in an interview in Athens.

The Greek economy has had three consecutive quarters of growth this year and according to government data out earlier this week, Greece's economy expanded 1.3 percent on a yearly basis during the third quarter.

The Greek government has said that the country has turned a page after years of economic recession. It expects growth of around 2 percent in 2018 and argues that it will end the third bailout program as planned in August without any further financial help from creditors.

"We do believe that stability will also create more deposits in the local market," Megalou said, adding that confidence in Greece is gradually being restored.

"There a lot more (reforms) to be done for confidence to be fully restore but we are in the right trajectory," he said, "the best trajectory since the beginning of the crisis; it cannot get worse, it can only get better."

Greece has faced economic problems since 2009 and received three bailouts, though it didn't finish one of them. In 2015, many suggested Greece should exit the euro zone.

Paul Kazarian, CEO of Japonica Partners, the largest private holder of Greek debt, told CNBC Tuesday that the current Syriza government has surprised everybody with the work it has done since the height of the economic crisis.

"Yeah they have really surprised everybody, what he (Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras) has done for a Socialist, wow, he has embarrassed the prior government … And without (a) business background, without experience," Kazarian told CNBC.

"He merits support, it doesn't matter if he is from this party or that party, he and his team have executed an extraordinary accomplishment, and should be complemented," the U.S. investor added.