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Greece happened. Cypriot banks were heavily exposed to the Greek debt crisis, by virtue of having large bonds holdings of Greek debt, both public and private. The value of that debt took a nosedive, destroying the balance sheets of Cypriot banks. Cyprus Popular Bank had €3.4 billion in Greek government debt, and the Bank of Cyprus €2.4 billion; they ended up losing €2.5 billion and €1 billion, respectively.
When Greek government debt was written down as part of a deal in 2011, that wiped out a lot of the remaining value of Greek debt. Popular Bank lost 76 percent of the value of their Greek bond holdings in the deal.
How did the banks deal with losing all that money?
They didn’t, and, fearing the worst, the Cypriot government nationalized Popular Bank. The Bank of Cyprus requested assistance too.