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​Russia’s biggest bank halts foreign currency personal loans

Published time: April 03, 2014 10:52
RIA Novosti / Eugeniy Biyatov

RIA Novosti / Eugeniy Biyatov

Sberbank has temporarily suspended giving foreign currency loans to individuals. Experts say other Russian banks are not likely to follow.

Russian banks aren't going to suspend foreign currency loans to individual Russians as they have just simplified credit product operations. Experts suggest Sberbank’s ruble-only loans have a more political character.

The bank said its April 1 decision was intended "to optimize the structure of the current portfolio and its stable behavior in the future, in case of any foreign currencies exchange rate fluctuations ".

"The bank preliminarily analyzed the needs of the clients and revealed that the current demand for loans can be completely satisfied with rubles without losing any advantages for the Sberbank products, including stocks offers," the Prime news quotes Sberbank officials.

In 2013 Sberbank issued $50 million of foreign currency loans, which account for 0.07 percent of the $68 billion loaned. 90 percent of the foreign currency loans were consumer, 9 percent mortgage, and 1 percent was for vehicles.

Bank of Russia Deputy Chairman Alexey Simanovsky doesn't expect Russian banks will stop giving foreign currency loans.

"Sberbank’s approach is a normal move towards simplification: to get rid of products which don't generate income," Igor Bulantsev, the chairman of Nordea Bank said.

He says many Russian banks have already managed to orientate their activities and simplify credit product operations.

"Taking into account the transition towards a floating exchange rate for the ruble … it is normal for people to take out loans in the same currency they spend, in same currency of the country" — he added.

However, Bulantsev said Nordea Bank isn't going to do away with foreign currency loans.

"Now their share is slightly less than 15 percent. We feel quite comfortable because when we give out foreign currency loans, we perform serious stress tests on the borrowers to make sure they can pay the money back. Taking into account our approach we don't see any serious risks to ourselves and our clients," the banker said.

Comments (8)


Erik Trete 04.04.2014 11:33

freeworldlogic two 03.04.2014 12:39

If you think 9% loans using an inflationary currency is good for business, you're out of your mind.


So what do you suggest? Take out a loan in dollars? And with what will these creditors pay back that loan? With the roubles that they earn? Better to take the loan in the currency you earn! At least you are not then subject to sudden and extreme fluctuations in the exchange rate!


DoAskDoTell 03.04.2014 16:36

There is an alternative to refusing to accept dollars for energy --set the exchange rate at which each currency will be accepted. To start with the difference from the IMM rate can be very slight and explainable as a risk premium due to the unpredictability of US sanctioning behavior. As the US ratchets up, the exchange rate spread can be expanded to reflect the increased risk. European and Chinese customers can then decide if they wish to pay a 10 or 20 percent premium to use the dollar. In this way the dollar gradually phases out, preventing a sudden shock.



Freaky 03.04.2014 13:24

freeworldlogic two 03.04.2014 12:39

If you think 9% loans using an inflationary currency is good for business, you're out of your mind.


But if China follows to dismiss the Dollar it will make sense

View all comments (8)
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