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June 25, 2021

Investors show ‘major interest’ for taking over banks

Two banks envisage the merger, the chief of BNR’s Supervisory Department, Nicolae Cinteza adds.

Investors manifest a “major interest” for taking over banks in Romania, but some shareholders stick to their prices, although they do not avail of resources to support the bank in case of problems, said the head of the Supervisory Department of BNR, Nicolae Cinteza, during a seminar organised in Sinaia, adding that two banks discuss the merger, after they reached the conclusion that compatibility exists for both portfolios and business models. “The shareholder of a bank wishes, while the shareholder of the other hesitates. One of the institutions belongs to the second group of banks, with a market share between 1 pc and 5 pc, the other has a share under 1 pc,” Cinteza explained. Asked if either institution is from Greece, Cinteza denied.
Thus, the second-echelon banks he referred to could be Banca Comerciala Carpatica, Otp Bank, Credit Europe, Intesa San Paolo and Italo-Romena. In the category of small banks with market shares under 1 pc, the possible candidates to a merger are Libra Bank, Bank Leumi, Nextebank and Banca Feroviara. For Millennium Bank, Credit Agricole and Marfin, shareholders already initiated the sale procedures, Mediafax reports.
Previously, the head of the supervisory department had affirmed that the Central Bank analyses the opportuneness of suspending the right of vote for the shareholder of a bank, in a context when he informed that such a situation was about to be reached in the case of RIB Bank. “You will see, two-three weeks from now, a BNR decision related to a shareholder in a bank that no longer meets the conditions required by law for being a shareholder, so he will probably lose the right to vote in the Board,” Cinteza mentioned.
Although he stopped short from naming the person, the BNR official probably referred to Ilie Carabulea, who directly and indirectly controls Banca Comerciala Carpatica.
Despite investors’ interest, Cinteza said that the banking system is not in a very good situation and the cumulated profit of RON 497 M posted at the end of last year comes rather from financial influence, respectively the cancellation of some provisions related to the profit tax that was delayed following the inclusion in reserves of the difference between the provisions on RAS and IFRS. He added that he is not as worried by the withdrawal of financing lines, with approximately EUR 4 bln left the system last year, as by the situation of the profit and loss account. “I am not worried by the cash outflow, because banks have enough liquidity, I am worried because that profit is rather in the accounting books, and going this way will result in decapitalisation,” Cinteza warned.
He added that the verification of restructured loans ended in the case of 20 banks, with 11 more to follow by the end of March, so in April BNR can conduct an evaluation at system scale.
Cinteza, BNR: Increase of commissions was “a trick”
The BNR letter about savings products where depositors lose money was aimed at convincing banks to become more transparent, so the client precisely knows the costs, the head of the Supervisory Department, Nicolae Cinteza, explained, adding that the increase of commissions was “a trick.” He mentioned that he cannot demand banks to modify their commercial policy, but he can request them to be more transparent and assume that they do not want to attract money on short term anymore.
Cinteza also agreed that banks often have big problems in their relations with customers. “I see it from the complaints I receive. They are gross. I always read the complaints, because you can learn many things from them,” he added.
Cyprus has a deadline to sell Marfin by the end of the month
The troika of the international financers of Cyprus (IMF, EU and ECB) extended by end-February the deadline until which Cyprus must sell Marfin Bank Romania, but is not sure whether authorities will be able to meet it. “They had a deadline on January 31, which was pushed back until the end of February. Now they have as deadline the end of February, and there are buyers. They should announce it, but I do not know if they will do it. The bank is good,” Cinteza stated.
He added that he recommended the acquisition of Marfin to those interested in takeovers in Romania and even sent investors to Cyprus. According to the chief of BNR’s surveillance, the bank has a good situation, as it is in negotiation with Cyprus in view of obtaining a discount on financing lines and a 5-year rescheduling scheme.

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