GO
Loading...

Data on Banks' Exposure to E. Europe 'Inaccurate': Erste

The figure of $1.3 trillion for the exposure of Western banks to the Central and Eastern European region reported by the Bank for International Settlements is too high, Andreas Treichl, CEO of Erste Bank, one of the biggest banks operating in CEE, told CNBC Wednesday.

"I think that's an inaccurate reflection, because that would mean an enormous amount of offshore funding for the region and it doesn't reconcile with the numbers that we have from the countries at all," he said.

"I think over the next couple of weeks we will clarify this number and come out with numbers that make sense," he added.

Various analysts' reports, including rating agency Moody's, used the number, sending shivers in the markets and knocking the countries' already battered currencies even lower.

Confusion over the numbers in the region is inflating investors' fears and exacerbating the problems, Treichl said.

The region's countries should not be put "all in the same basket" as there are solid economies, without current account deficits or real estate bubbles, such as the Czech Republic, and countries with big current account deficits combined with real estate bubbles such as the Baltic states, Treichl added.

"For the moment, this time, 2009, we are recovering 97.5 percent of our non-performing loans. So that's not bad," he said, but stroke a note of caution about future developments.

Asked on "Squawk Box Europe" if Erste Bank was planning to withdraw liquidity from the region, Treichl said: "No. Our CEE business is self-funded. Actually we have more deposits in the markets than we have loans outstanding."

Erste Bank has assets worth 48 billion euros in Central and Eastern Europe and deposits worth 50 billion euros, he said. But he acknowledged that double-digit growth in the region, the norm over the past few years, was over and his bank does not plan increase its investment there.

"Let's keep the feet on the ground. We do have a lot of liquidity there and we do not expect loan growth dramatically in the region," he said.

Around 2.7 billion euros will be poured into the bank, of which some is to come from private investors, the rest from the government.

"We have secured enough private capital that we can make sure that the maximum amount that we need from the government is around maximum 2 billion," Treichl said.

Banks