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EU Finance Ministers Consider Shutting Two of Cyprus’s Largest Banks and Freezing Assets of Uninsured Depositors

“Euro-area finance chiefs, pressuring Cyprus to shrink its banking system as the condition for a bailout, are reviving demands they jettisoned last week as too extreme, four European officials said.

Finance ministers for the 17 euro countries are considering a plan to shutter the two biggest banks in Cyprus and freeze the assets of uninsured depositors, said the four officials, who asked not to be named because the talks are ongoing.

Cyprus Popular Bank Plc  and the Bank of Cyprus Plcwould be split to create a so-called bad bank, one of the officials said. Insured deposits — below the European Union ceiling of 100,000 euros ($129,000) — would go into a so-called good bank and not sustain any losses, while uninsured deposits would go into the bad bank and be frozen until assets could be sold, said the four officials.

Losses to unsecured creditors, including uninsured depositors, could reach 40 percent under the plan, which has support from the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. The proposal, a version of which was rejected last week, is considered a better option than taxing insured deposits or allowing Cypriot banks to collapse in a disorderly fashion if they lose access to ECB aid, the officials said.

‘Serious’ Situation…”

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