Lending returned to its 2005 level

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Lending returned to its 2005 level

 

Companies registered the sharpest drop on lei-denominated loans, compared to November, of 3.3 percent, while loans increased by a monthly 1.5 percent, to RON 198 billion (€46.44 bln), due mainly to the depreciation of the national currency. The balance of euro-denominated loans taken out by Romanians fell to €49.7 bln. “Even if banks had access to less expensive resources, the economic situation is rather difficult, and risks have risen for both companies and individuals. Increasing the market share in current conditions is suicidal,” Ionut Dumitru, Chief Analyst of Raiffeisen Bank, told Business Standard. Some banks explained their reluctance by referring to the regulation of the National Bank of Romania (BNR) regarding lending, but as of January BNR’s officials have given lenders a free hand. In reply, some bankers are still considering adopting less restrictive conditions on loans, while others said plainly they will not relax lending conditions. Lenders are avoiding granting loans for fields such as real estate, considered this to be the riskiest sector due to the blockage on this market, but are continuing to lend to low risk profile companies whose degree of indebtedness is likewise low. A slower lending pace is bringing closer the moment when banks will resort to closing branches and cutting staff. “If they have capitalization-related problems and cannot absorb potential losses, then they have to cut costs fast,” Dumitru added. (G.F.)