introduction
CNB measurements
Commercial banking measures
HAMAG-BICRO corona loans
Stability Fund

introduction

As the whole world struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout, Croatia’s banking and financial sector has put in place a number of measures to ease the pressure on struggling businesses as well as affected citizens. by the crisis.

The Croatian National Bank (CNB) has taken several measures with the aim of increasing the liquidity of the financial system and maintaining a stable exchange rate of the Croatian kuna. It also provided additional liquidity to commercial banks, which also introduced their own measures. Loans are also available on particularly favorable terms and a new investment fund to support the stability of the financial system has been set up.

CNB measurements

The CNB, the main regulatory and supervisory authority for banks in Croatia, has introduced its own measures, adjusting the regulatory framework and intervening in the financial market to maintain the liquidity of the economy.

As the governor of the CNB told the media, the central bank has set itself three main goals to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis:

  • maintain a stable exchange rate;
  • increase the liquidity of the financial system; and
  • improvement of activity in the State securities market.

The stability of the exchange rate was achieved thanks to four interventions on the foreign exchange market in mid-March 2020 of 1.6 billion euros.

As for the second objective, the CNB placed 4.55 billion HRK in the open banking market through a structural and regular operation, thus adding long-term liquidity for banks at a low interest rate. CNB accepted all bids from banks for placing HRK 3.8 billion at a fixed interest rate of 0.25% for five years and offered HRK 750 million to lending institutions through auction regular repo at an interest rate of 0.30%.

However, as the additional liquidity provided to banks does not reach other financial institutions and the government bond market was potentially threatened with a freeze, which in turn would have adversely affected the funding conditions for all national sectors, another intervention was undertaken. CNB bought government bonds through two auctions worth HRK 4.3 billion, which was the first such intervention for CNB.

The CNB has also adapted its approach to the supervision of credit institutions in accordance with the positions of the European Banking Authority and the European Central Bank, which makes it more flexible in the application of the existing regulatory framework in these exceptional circumstances. The CNB postponed certain supervisory activities (i.e. stress tests of credit institutions and direct supervision of transactions) and instructed banks on the use of liquidity reserves and the classification of existing exposures and news on regular debtors the following year.

Commercial banking measures

At present, there is no legal obligation for banks to take action, but the government has issued recommendations which have been accepted by the majority of banks operating in the Croatian market (for more details please to consult “Banking regulations in Croatia – an overview“).

Croatian commercial banks have taken the following measures:

  • a moratorium on loan repayments for a minimum period of three months with the possibility of extension;
  • restructuring of existing loans;
  • the introduction of a standstill period during which banks temporarily refrain from taking payments;
  • approved overdrafts remain the same regardless of changes in income; and
  • introduction of additional loans for liquidity and working capital in collaboration with relevant state agencies and development banks, supported by guarantee programs and other risk coverage options.

The measures are aimed at both natural and legal persons affected by the current situation. To be eligible for the first two, the candidate must justify either a decline in activity (companies), or a loss of employment or a reduction in salary (citizens). They should also be classified as “A customers”, as proposed by the CNB, which means that they have duly fulfilled their payment obligations to the bank until December 2019. The moratorium is approved for three months with the possibility of extension . to six months, depending on the situation. During the moratorium period, customers are exempt from payment of principal and interest; however, interest will still accrue. Skipped installments must still be paid by customers, either during the designated repayment period or the period will be extended by three months, pending individual agreement. Late fees will temporarily not be imposed on debts due from March 31, 2020 to June 30, 2020.

The banks have also agreed that they will not take any forced action (i.e. foreclosures or collateral instruments) to collect debts from debtors who fail to settle three installments of their credit commitments. within a three month period, starting in early 2020.

Usually, pre-arranged overdrafts for citizens are approved up to three average monthly salaries. If a person’s salary is reduced, the adjustment of the overdraft may result in that person’s debt. Therefore, most banks will automatically approve the same overdraft limit regardless of any change in income, while others will at least postpone the adjustment.

The terms of use of these measures are not uniform, but rather depend on the credit institution in question and the particular case. However, banks stress that they are open to individual agreements with customers.

In addition to commercial banks, the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises concerned have the possibility to apply for a loan to maintain their liquidity and working capital from the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development and HAMAG-BICRO (the Croatian agency for small and medium-sized enterprises). small businesses, innovation and investment).

HAMAG-BICRO corona loans

The government has also established a special loan program for working capital for micro, small and medium entrepreneurs which will be implemented by HAMAG-BICRO. Corona loans are available up to 750,000 HRK (approximately 100,000 €) with an interest rate of 0.25%, a grace period of one year and a maximum repayment period of five years. Loans are processed under a simplified procedure at no additional cost. They will be available as long as sufficient funds are available, or by December 31, 2020 at the latest. As with the other measures, applicants will have to prove the negative effects of the pandemic on their business activities, a minimum loss of income of 20% at first quarter or a projected loss in subsequent quarters. This measure is financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

Stability Fund

The Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency recently approved the creation of a stability fund worth HRK 500 million (approx. € 66 million). The open investment fund with public offering (collective investment schemes in transferable securities (UCITS)) was created for a fixed term of three years and is aimed at institutional investors wishing to invest at least 1 million HRK.

The fund was established as an alternative method to stabilize the government bond market. Its object is the common placement of assets acquired through a public offering of shares in the fund, mainly through the purchase of negotiable debt securities and money market instruments issued or guaranteed by the State as well as UCITS funds established on the Croatian territory who invest most of their assets. in bonds.

The fund may offer investors:

  • adequate liquidity of invested funds;
  • preservation of the starting value of the investment and an appropriate return on investment; and
  • an increase in the liquidity of negotiable debt securities and money market instruments of which the issuer or the guarantor is the State.

For more information on this topic, please contact Ivana manovelo at Maćešić & Partners by phone (+385 51 215 010) or email ([email protected]). The Maćešić & Partners website can be accessed at www.macesic.hr.


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