Russia considers bail-out for banks; Government to take board seats and have veto rights

Russia is looking at a bail-out of its banks that would go further than the emergency action taken by the US, amid growing fears that bad loans could paralyse the country’s economy.

Igor Shuvalov, deputy prime minister, will consider taking stakes in troubled banks when a group of experts on the financial crisis meets on Friday to discuss ways to recapitalise Russia’s banking system, according to a draft proposal seen by the Financial Times.

The proposal, one of several under consideration, would see the government issue OFZ treasury bills, a type of bond, to boost the balance sheets of the biggest banks. In return, the state would receive preferred shares.

Unlike the US bank bail-out, the Russian scheme would see the government take board seats and have veto rights.

Analysts said such a plan would allow banks to declare the true level of their bad loans and, once their balance sheets were cleaned up, enable them to start lending again in 2010.

About $100bn in domestic loans fall due by the end of the year and the central bank has said bank profits would be wiped out if non-performing loans reached 10-12 per cent of the total.

With high interest rates and a dearth of new credit, bankers say they fear non-performing loans could hit as much as 20 per cent of overall credit portfolios by the end of the year.

Ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have warned that Russia could need to spend $40bn recapitalising the banking system.

The recapitalisation funds would be limited to the top 55 banks in Russia’s 1,100-strong banking system, analysts said. The draft bill says only banks with a minimum of Rbs50bn ($1.6bn) in assets would be eligible

By Catherine Belton in Moscow
Published: June 25 2009 18:04 | Last updated: June 26 2009 02:48

Source: The Financial Times

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