Consolidation Looms in Polish Banking Industry

By Gregson, Jonathan | Global Finance, February 2011 | Go to article overview

Consolidation Looms in Polish Banking Industry


Gregson, Jonathan, Global Finance


Poland

Not only does Poland stand alone within the European Union in having delivered GDP growth through every quarter since 2008, but its intrinsically conservative banking system survived the crisis well. That looks set to continue, with forecasts for this year's economic growth hovering around 3.5% to 4%. And Zbigniew Jagieffo, president of the country's largest bank, PKO Bank Polski, points to continued strength- and possibly consolidation- in the banking sector.

Thus far, Polish banks' relatively comfortable capital ratios have enabled them to absorb losses on their portfolios, though nonperforming loans have nearly doubled from 4.5% in late 2008 to a market average of 8.8% (PKP Bank Polski's are 7.4%). But the country's Financial Supervision Authority is concerned about the level of foreign currency lending, which, given rumblings in the nearby Eurozone, could put pressure on both the zloty and Polish banks' balance sheets.

According to Mariusz Zygierewicz at the Polish Bank Association, the regulator's recommendation of limiting foreign currency lending to 50% of bank's loan books is acceptable when applying to new credits, but if applied to preexisting portfolios is likely to generate write-downs. …

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