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Banks should offer better services


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BANKS SHOULD offer a better service and adopt clearer policies in supporting new small and medium-sized companies said a leading banker last week.

Addressing members of the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in Porto, the President of the Board of Directors at the  (BPI), Dr. Artur Santos Silva, argued that banks “should be willing to run more risks in backing intelligent and well thought out entrepreneurial projects.”

The financial wizard who has been actively pursuing a so-far failed merger with Portugal’s faction-ridden Millennium bcp, made his poignant comments – in part aimed at bcp whose expansionist policies have been to invest heavily abroad in Eastern Europe rather than run risks at home – at a conference entitled ‘Innovation & Entrepreneurialism” which was promoted by the BPCC.

“In Portugal there’s a lack of risk-taking, go-getting entrepreneurial spirit, what we tend to see instead are small-time businesses focused on the consumer,” blasted Santos Silva, who refused to be drawn into comments on his bank’s negotiations with Millennium bcp.

“Only underdeveloped countries display such a high tendency in this entrepreneurial area,” adding that it wasn’t surprising in the case of Portugal since the Portuguese were generally not well qualified.

“It is important that the banks adopt a better attitude when it comes to their policies of granting loans to young business people,” he added.


However, this did not mean that the banks in Portugal had a responsibility to solve problems over capital creation.

“This is not a bank’s role and a lack of venture and risk capital cannot be laid at our doorsteps,” said Artur Santos.

“Commercial agents have to have the money management capacity to help new businesses,” he added.

Dr Artur Santos stressed that unlike the rest of Europe, which suffered from an average state interference in private affairs of 50 per cent, Portugal still suffered “from excessive state meddling to the order of 70 per cent.”

“Innovation is absolutely crucial if Portuguese companies and the country are to become competitive in a free market,” he explained.

For Dr Artur Santos the key lay in improved education at infant, primary, secondary and university levels.

When specifically asked about the proposed merger between BPI and Millenniun bcp, he said, “I’m not here to talk about that. I can only confirm that negotiations between the executive directors of the two banks are going ahead and proposals that have been made to BCP are being studied.”

“At the moment there are very clear guidelines on what should be done and therefore on this question I’m not going to add a single word,” he added days before the ‘friendly merger’ of the two banks, which looked so sure on Friday, was dead in the water by Sunday night (November 25th).

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