Bank Lending To Individuals Peaked In April

8 June 2016 – Expansión

The banks are stepping on the accelerator to sign new loan contracts. In April, the rate of new mortgages and consumer loans granted by Spanish financial institutions reached levels not seen since before the rescue (of the sector) in 2012. Nevertheless, new operations to large companies declined during the month, which meant that the total volume of new loans granted in April decreased by 7.9% to €34,600 million, according to data from the Bank of Spain.

In this way, Spain’s banks are clearly focusing on three areas to secure new business and whereby improve their returns:

1. Mortgages: the volume of new mortgages to buy homes amounted to €5,173 million in April, twice as much as last year and the highest monthly figure since December 2012. Even so, that figure does include renegotiations. If we exclude those, the amount of new money granted for mortgages during April amounted to €2,920 million, i.e. 45% more than during the same month last year and the second highest monthly figure in the last year. The banks hope to offset the low profitability of the mortgages granted during the years of the real estate boom with these new mortgages.

2. Consumer credit: Another segment that the financial entities are pushing hard is that of consumer credit, in light of the high interest rates being offered (c. 7.52%), according to the latest figures from the Bank of Spain. In this way, the financial sector granted €2,330 million of new financing to consumers in April, almost 50% more than a year earlier and the largest volume since May 2010.

3. SMEs: The financial sector is also focusing on its business with SMEs, where the banks are waging a battle to secure new clients. Nevertheless, the loan volumes there did not reach record levels in April – €11,710 million was granted, which was 14% more than a year earlier, but lower than the figure in December – like in the cases of mortgages and consumer credit, but the price at which new loans are being granted did, averaging 7.52%, the lowest level seen in recent months.

However, the banks have encountered a more complex panorama in the market for medium-sized and large business. Regarding the former, the volume of new loans grew by just 4% in April, whilst in the case of the later, the volume of loans granted declined by 40%. According to Fernando Alonso, Director of Companies and Corporations at BBVA, speaking in a recent interview, the “political uncertainty may well be delaying investment decisions at the corporate level”.

For the first time, the Bank of Spain provided data about renegotiations in its figures for April; it also gave details about loans to companies by amount; deferred credit card payments – also at record highs -; and overdrafts to households and companies.

Original story: Expansión (by J. Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake