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News : Irish Economy Last Updated: Jun 21, 2013 - 7:10 AM

Irish Economy 2013: Bad loans ratio at 25% in Ireland and Greece; 11% in Spain
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jun 20, 2013 - 6:22 AM

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Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, and Enda Kenny, taoiseach, at the G-8 summit at Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, June 18, 2013.

Irish Economy 2013: The ratio of bad or non-performing loans as a percentage of total private sector credit in Ireland is at 25% - a similar level to Greece's and the ratio is at 11% in Spain.

However, the Irish ratio excludes the transfers to NAMA (National Assets Management Agency): NAMA acquired 12,000 toxic property loans (secured by approximately 56,000 individual property units) involving about 800 debtor connections. Par debt at acquisition was approximately €74bn. It paid the Irish banks €31.8bn -- a discount of 57%.  Last month NAMA confirmed the sale of properties with an initial value at €810m to a Starwood Capital-led consortium structured with just under 60% vendor finance provided by NAMA over five years. It was reported that the properties were sold for around €200m, which would reflect a 75.3% discount. NAMA has a 20% interest in the consortium.

The IMF's latest review [pdf] says that at 24.8% of total loans, nonperforming loans are a drain on market confidence, cash flows, and a source of operational costs that hinder capacity to lend. "A lack of resolution progress also undermines the reliability of assessments of loan values."

We reported last April that half of all lending to Irish SME (small and medium enterprises) business are in arrears, according to the Central Bank. Fiona Muldoon, the director of credit institution supervision at the bank said that of the €50bn lent to the sector by the domestic banks, some €25bn was impaired.

The IMF said that the breadth of financial distress is evident in 15.8% of mortgages on primary dwellings being over 90 days in arrears, and  26.9% of buy-to-let mortgages. "The SME sector is particularly hurt by domestic demand weakness with impaired loans rising to 25% of SME and corporate loans. Banks have largely responded with a combination of forbearance and rejections of SME loan applications -- the latter is the highest in the EU. Banks remained loss making in 2012 even before provisioning, and are only beginning to resolve NPLs (non-performing loans), now reported at a quarter of gross loans."

The Irish Central Bank said in April that loans issued to Irish residents were valued at €327bn in January 2013; €131bn was outstanding from non residents, giving a total value of €458bn.

PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated the banks' coverage ratio for losses at 56% in 2011.

The IMF says that in 2012, Irish banks ran losses before provisions of €0.8bn, or 0.2% of average assets. Benefiting from the phasing out of ELG (state guarantee) and improving interest margins, "by end 2013 PCAR (Prudential Capital Assessment Review) banks project €1.1bn in profits before provisions or 0.4% of average assets. While this improvement is welcome, profitability would still fall short of covering normal provisioning, and would not build capital to support new lending. Tracker mortgages, at some 30% of net loans, are a key drag on bank profitability, and PTSB‘s (PermanentTSB)  especially high exposure to these mortgages contributes to its inability to break even until 2016–17."

In the Eurozone, total NPLs (including property) as a percentage of banks’ total loans increased from 5.6% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2012. This year, the Eurozone’s economy is expected to contract slightly, and, based on Oxford Economics research, NPLs will reach a euro-era high of €932bn, amounting to 7.6% of total loans of €12.2tn, according to Ernst & Young.  As economic conditions improve in 2014, NPLs are expected to drop to 5.6% of €12.5tn of outstanding loans, or the same percentage as in 2011. However, the Eurozone’s growth is expected to be modest, averaging about 1.3% annually for the rest of this decade.

Non performing loans at Spanish banks are projected to rise further in the coming months as the economy continues to struggle, the IMF said on Wednesday.

"NPLs typically are lagging indicators. I wouldn't be surprised if they would continue to increase in the medium term," James Daniel, the head of the IMF mission in Spain, said at a news conference following the release of the fund's annual assessment of the Spanish economy.

Spanish banks' bad loans as a percentage of total credit rose to 10.9% in April from 10.5% in March, Bank of Spain data showed on Tuesday.

SEE also: Ireland's slow-motion government slammed by European Commission

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