Patai: November deadline “impossible,” UniCredit scaling down


UniCredit Hungary CEO/Hungarian Banking Association (MBSz) president Mihály Patai stated yesterday that while the government has a plan to “change the status quo of the domestic banking system,” the imposed November 1 deadline for a solution to the problem of outstanding forex-based loans is “impossible to meet.”

In speaking at a Swiss-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce (SwissCham) event, Patai continued on with “Moreover, imagine a situation in which banks come together and work out a solution. Within three days, all the chief executives would be charged with creating a cartel.”

A unilateral solution should not be expected by the banks, said Patai, reckoning that the government “should accept reality: It is impossible to convert CHF 12 billion to forints on such short notice.” Patai’s comment echoed those of Unicredit CEE Division director Gianni Franco Papa, who stated on Wednesday that Hungary-based banks “should not be burdened all at once to help out borrowers who hold mortgages in foreign currency.”

Mused Patai, “I'm really hoping the government will give up the idea of converting CHF 12 billion to 15 billion into forints from one day to another.”

At a press conference later that day, Patai reported that Hungarian banks are in the fourth consecutive year of losses and that the government’s current plans would place “unjustifiable burdens on existing banks while improving the position of others.”

Patai went on to announce that, in response to expected losses in revenue thanks to taxation, UniCredit plans to scale back operations in the country: The current plan calls for consolidating branch banks via the closing of 15 Budapest branches’ operations, trimming staff by “several dozen” and increasing its market share.

Patai stated that tax burdens would not be passed on to corporate clients.

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