Earlier this week, Fitch Ratings published 'Russian Banks Datawatch', covering banks' balance sheet data as of 1 February 2015. Fitch Ratings noted the following key developments in January:
- "Corporate loans increased by RUB2.2trn (6.5%) in nominal terms in January", down -0.9% "after adjusting for 23% rouble depreciation against the US dollar"
- "Retail lending dropped by a moderate RUB46bn (-0.4%) in nominal terms", but fell -1.1% in USD terms. Majority of banks are deleveraging at a rate of 1-4%
- "Customer funding grew by RUB3.5trn (8.2%) in nominal terms", down only -0.1% "net of currency valuation effects as RUB328bn outflow from retail accounts was only partially compensated by RUB264bn inflow of corporate (excluding government entities) funding"
- CBR funding: "Banks repaid about RUB1trn of state funding in January, which had become expensive after the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) increased the key interest rate to 17% from 11.5% in December 2014 (before cutting it slightly to 15% in February 2015)". Note: these repayments offset official forex outflows recorded in the months when banks borrowed funds. As a reminder, when a bank borrows in forex from the CBR, the borrowing is recorded as forex outflow. When the bank subsequently repays the funds in forex, the repayment is entered as forex inflow. But if the bank repays borrowings in RUB, the repayment is registered as an inflow in RUB.
- Actual CBR funding deleveraging by the banks was even steeper: Banks repayment of RUB1trn is broken down into (1) "RUB1.6trn decrease of CBR funding" offset by (2) "RUB0.6trn increase in deposits from the Ministry of Finance, regional and federal budgets". Note: as deposits are liabilities, higher holdings of official deposits within the CBR account counts against the CBR balance sheet.
- Fitch notes that going forward, "This trend [of net repayment of CBR loans] is likely to continue unless the CBR lowers the key rate further ...CBR funding of the sector in foreign currency has become significant, totalling USD21bn (of which USD9.5bn was provided to Otkrytie) at 1 February 2015".
- Banks' profitability: "The sector reported a RUB34bn net loss in January (-6.2% annualised ROE). Alfa-bank significantly outperformed the sector with a net income of RUB30bn mainly due to FX-revaluation gains. Among state banks only Sberbank reported net income, at RUB3.7bn, while others were loss-making: VTB group had a loss of RUB21bn, Gazprombank RUB8bn and Russian Agricultural Bank RUB4bn. Retail banks performed poorly, and most were loss-making..."
- Banks capital ratios: "The average total capital ratio (10% required minimum) of the 100 sample banks decreased by 54bps in January. As at end-1M15, seven banks in the sample (of those publishing capital ratios) had a total capital ratio below 11% [one of them] Fondservisbank (10.4%), was put under CBR temporary administration in February."
- Capitalisation forward: "The announced state recapitalisation measures of over RUB2trn should moderately support banks' capitalisation, although these will be available primarily for larger banks" In other words, expect push for more banks consolidations from Q2 2015.
Summary: corporate lending is up in RUB terms but down in USD terms, retail lending is down both in RUB and USD terms. Deposits up in RUB terms and flat in USD terms, Profitability down significantly and the sector is generating net losses. Capitalisation down with a number of smaller banks heading closer to regulatory minimum, implying that recapitalisation funds will have to be used pretty soon and sector conslidation is likely to accelerate.