Wednesday, December 31, 2014

31/12/2014: Ruble Crisis: Banking System in a Shut-Down Mode

Something for Russia analysts to watch comes January 12: The CBR will be offering RUB 1.1 trillion in 3-mo repo auction with eligible collateral being lowered to allow non-marketable assets. That is roughly USD20 billion in one go.

Meanwhile, Russian CB has been bailing out banks in line with the announcement made two weeks ago and passed via an emergency legislation by the Duma. Trust Bank was the first one to get a bailout of RUB99 billion in a form of 10-year loan and additional RUB28 billion loan for "Otkrytie" - financial intermediary that will take over Trust Bank. But the bailout is a bit of a misnomer here. Instead, it is a backdoor QE. "Otkrytie" already announced that it will spend RUB99 billion it borrowed from the CBR at 0.51% pa, to buy Russian Federal bonds. On back of that, S&P downgraded "Otkrytie" confirming rating of BB-/B, but moving it to negative outlook.

This was followed by the recapitalisation for VTB. The Government approved RUB250 billion funding for VTB which will be paid into two tranches. The first one of RUB100 billion was already deposited with the bank and the second one is forthcoming in Q1 2015. With both tranches in place, VTB CT1 capital ratio will be expected to rise to 12% from current 10.2%. VTB got the first tranche on the following terms: 30 years deposit at inflation+1% margin per annum, calculated every 6 months and payable every 6 months.

In reality, here's what's happening on the ground. 2014 has been marked by freezing of external funding sources (due to sanctions), rising corporate demand for credit (due to sanctions) and delletion of deposits. Deposits inflows were predominantly forex, demand for credit was predominantly in Rubles. The crisis is made worse (worse probably than 2008-2009 one) because capital buffers of the banks are weaker, relative to regulatory benchmarks and funding sources were more reliant on external funding and were shorter term. The CBR drive to reduce number of banks competing for dwindling deposits base has been not aggressive enough, so market fragmentation is still a problem: too many banks with

The banking crisis is now being compounded by the breakdown in payments systems. In September 2014, the CBR facilitated setting up of the new National Platform for Payments Cards (NPSK) that is supposed to become operational by march 1, 2015. Interestingly, this week the CBR published a list of 50 major or significant payments providers operating in Russia - a list that excludes both Mastercard and Visa.

The recaps will continue on. National Wealth Fund is set to inject ca RUB394 billion (10% of the fund value) into the systemically important banks, namely banks with own capital in excess of RUB100 billion, the list of which includes only Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Rosselkhozbank, Alfa-bank, VTB-24, Bank of Moscow, Unicredit Bank and Rosbank. The injection is supposed to be used for infrastructure investments by the banks. Funds will be disbursed in the form of deposits and in debt paper issued to fund infrastructure investments.Cost of funding will be set at the rate at which the NWF will provide deposits to the banks. Banks will report quarterly on funds use.

Basically, we are witnessing a system that is heading into a major crisis - the hatches are being welded shut, not just battened. Whether that takes place before the flaring up of the next bout of Ruble crisis or not will determine how 2015-2016 are going to play out.

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