RPT-Fitch: Mongolia’s Savings Bank Failure Highlights Fragile System

July 30 09:57 2013 Print This Article

in.reuters.com  Jul 29, 2013

Last week’s failure of Mongolia’s fifth-largest lender, Savings Bank, highlights Mongolia’s deteriorating business environment and weaknesses in corporate governance and regulation of the banking sector, Fitch Ratings says. Key pressure points are brisk loan growth on the back of the government’s subsidised loan scheme; currency depreciation; and weaknesses in the construction and mining sectors. Domestic depositor confidence in the banking system remains intact, and has so far prevented a systemic crisis.

Savings Bank’s failure highlights the mining and construction sectors as the central pressure points for the banking system – given the slow mining production and rapid decline in copper and property prices. Further depreciation of the local currency is also likely to weaken banks’ loan quality, as 30% of total loans were in foreign currency at end-H113. The failure of Savings Bank is also a reminder that collateral held against loans may be insufficient or unenforceable.

We believe that much greater rigour is needed in implementing existing related-party/concentration limits to maintain financial stability, as Mongolia’s volatile economy could suffer from rapid credit deterioration. Savings Bank’s failure was caused mainly by its association with the insolvent Just Group, its ultimate parent. The bank’s non-performing loans exceeded its capital by more than two times, which would be a striking breach of the 20% limit if all were to related parties.

System-wide liquidity is under pressure from strong loan growth and falling confidence on the part of international investors. We expect Savings Bank’s creditors to suffer no losses, and domestic deposits to remain stable following the takeover of Savings Bank’s healthy assets and liabilities by state-owned State Bank.

Mongolia has a macro-prudential risk indicator of ‘MPI3’, reflecting a high risk of systemic stress from rapid credit growth, strong asset-price growth, and appreciation of the real effective exchange rate.

For more information on the sector, see our report Mongolian Banks: A Fragile System, published today on www.fitchratings.com.

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Saranchimeg Enkhee
Saranchimeg Enkhee

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