Companies were net borrowers in 2014, for first time in six years

MNB

Hungarian companies were net borrowers in 2014, for the first year since 2008, fresh data published by the National Bank (MNB) of Hungary on Friday show. Excluding exchange rate changes and other revaluation effects, companies were net borrowers of HUF 156.9 bln last year.

Revaluations reduced the stock last year by about HUF 76 bln. Even though the forint weakened 5.7% to the euro during the period – which would have raised FX lending stock – the booking of bank insolvencies countered the effect.

Corporate lending stock, excluding corporate bonds, rose 1.2% last year after falling 3.4% in 2013. Cheap credit available in the framework of the MNB's Funding for Growth Scheme provided the impetus for the turnaround.

Banks lent some HUF 472 bln to SMEs between October 2013, when phase II of the scheme was launched, and December 31 of last year. Outlays for the whole scheme thus far add up to about HUF 1.17 trillion, and central bank governor György Matolcsy has said the MNB wants to make a further HUF 1 trillion available this year, extending the credit to big companies as well as SMEs. Under the scheme, the MNB provides banks with zero-interest refinancing for SME loans at APRs of no more than 2.5%.

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