50 more banks may collapse in Ukraine in 2015

From Fort Russ

Mach 27, 2015
Vasily Ablyazimov for Politnavigator
Translated by Kristina Rus

The instability of the Ukrainian financial and banking systems continues to increase. In 2015 from 30 to 50 banks in the country may be eliminated.

The Ukrainian banking system has reached a record in 2014 – the total loss amounted to about $53 billion UAH, according to the NBU (National Bank of Ukraine). 52 banks recorded losses, nearly one in three. The total number of banking institutions has declined over the year from 180 to 158.

The largest minus showed the VAB Bank – 10.1 billion UAH, in second and third place – state-owned banks Ukreximbank with a loss of 9.8 billion UAH, and Oschadbank with 8.6 billion UAH. The reason – large write-off of debts and credits of the bankrupt state-owned companies.

The main reasons stated for the huge losses: damage from war and  devaluation of the hryvnia. In the banking sector from 30-35% of employees and bankers lost jobs. Those remaining had their salaries cut: minimum – 10%, maximum – 30%, according to the newspaper “Vesti”.

Financiers are sure that not all shareholders will be able to save their companies this year. By most optimistic projections, temporary administrations by the end of 2015 will be introduced at another 20-25 banks, from small to large. According to the pessimistic scenario – 45-50.

“In my opinion, current trends are likely to continue : small banks will go bankrupt, and some of the major ones will get nationalized,” – said the chairman of the board of OTP Bank, Tamash Hack-Kovach.

Bankers do not hide that this year will be very challenging for the banking sector. “In 2015, we should not expect economic growth and increasing real incomes, and hence lending opportunities will be very limited. This means that the main task for the banking system is to survive in this difficult situation”, – said the first deputy head of the board of UniCredit, Tamara Savoshenko.

Such instability in the banking system, many bad loans and the devaluation of the national currency will lead to a considerable reduction of both external and large industrial and other loans. The few lenders that will venture to renew financing for borrowers, will rely either on expensive loans (interest rates reach 120% per annum and cover potential defaults) or small business. It is guaranteed to lead to the closure of major projects, possibly, businesses, higher unemployment and lower living standards.

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