Bulgaria Banks Suffer Biggest Funding Drop in EU's East - Fitch
Bulgarian lenders suffered a 47% reduction in parent funding during the first half of the year, the largest drop among banks in Central and Eastern Europe, according to Fitch Ratings.
Funding withdrawals, although slowing, remained significant in the first half of the year, suggesting that "changes in risk appetite, a weaker medium-term economic outlook and limited attractive lending opportunities were the main drivers," the survey said.
The survey covers 43 foreign-owned banks in seven countries in central and eastern Europe.
Group funding at eastern European banks decreased by 20% to EUR 62 B between the end of 2008 and July 2012 , representing a "moderate" 4% of total liabilities, the survey said.
The drop in funding has been largely replaced with domestic deposits, it said.
Bulgaria is followed by Hungary, whose banks saw a 38% reduction in parent funding.
The other countries surveyed are Croatia, Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
"In Fitch's opinion, outflows from Hungary also reflected weak prospects for the local economy as well as unorthodox policies implemented by the Hungarian government in respect of the banking system," the survey said.
The Bulgarian banking system is concentrated, with most of the assets owned by large financial institutions from the eurozone.
Greek banks hold nearly a 30% of the Bulgarian banking market, a 20% share of the bank loans and one-third of all deposits.
Some of the biggest lenders in Bulgaria are managed by Italy's UniCredit, Greece's National Bank of Greece, Hungary's OTP and Austria's Raiffeisen.
Other Greek banks present in Bulgaria include EFG Eurobank, Piraeus, Emporiki and Alpha Bank.
Experts have warned that Bulgaria, the European Union member boasting one of the bloc's smallest budget deficit, risks seeing its banks sucked under by the fiscal sins of neighboring Greece.
Bulgaria's central bank and finance minister however have repeatedly tried to assuage fears over funds outflow from Greek bank subsidiaries in the country to headquarters in Greece, saying this is part of the free movement of capital.