Thursday , July 29 2021

Consolidation of the banking market of Serbia – Glas Podrinja

BELGRADE, November 11, 2018 (Beta): The wave of acquisition that shed Serbia's banking market on the one hand is quite expected and, on the other, completely unexpected.

It is expected that experts say 29 banks are too much for a country whose gross domestic product last year was less than 37 million euros. But it is unexpected because previously foreign banks have already been purchased by existing domestic banks and, lately, foreign-owned banks are buying domestic entrepreneurs.

Miodrag Kostic, who in the meantime became the 100-year-old AIK Bank, retired from the first move to take over the Alfa Bank.

Last year, AIK Bank was the first in Serbia for a net profit of 118 million euros, the quarter for the capital of half a billion euros and the sixth for a total of approved loans of almost 1.8 million euros.

The new players in this market are Andrej Jovanovic and Bojan Milovanovic, who first bought the Serbian subsidiary of Nova creditite banka Maribor, changed his name to Banco Directo and then "bought" Pireus and Findomestik Bank.

Before joining Piraeus, by the end of 2017, the Direct Bank was the tenth for a profit of 16 million euros and the sixteenth place after participating in the total assets of 0.8 percent (the percentage of Pireus Bank was of 1.5 percent) and in terms of capital from 33 million euros, while the capital of Pireus Bank is three times the largest, 108 million euros.

Many probably do not even remember that more than 80 banks operated in Serbia two decades ago, almost all of them with national capital. Already in 2004 its number has fallen to 47, and this trend has continued, although new "players", such as Bank of China or Mira Bank of the United Arab Emirates, arrived in the middle.

In professional circles, there is almost a consensus that there is still a boost in the banking market of Serbia, because banks with a market share of less than two percent can not survive at any time.

At present, there are up to 14 banks with a market share of less than 1.5 percent. All of them approved only 7.5% of total loans, while the participation of the six largest banks, Intesa, Komercijalna banka, Unnikredit, Société Générale, Raiffeisen and AIK Banka were eight times larger: 62.2%.

Almost all the senior citizens have a larger share of 14 small banks together. That is why economic journalist Miško Brkić remembers the forces in the Serbian banking market that recall six "Guliver" and "Liliputans."

You are certain that, at the time, some of the existing banks will be the target of taking possession. In the end, Finance Minister Sinisa Mali has already announced that the state plans to sell its stake in Jubmes Bank next year and Komercijalna later this year and is preparing the strategy for the Serbian Bank. In addition, for months, the public guessed who could buy the Société Générale Bank, since this French group withdrew from the Croatian market.

"I am not sure that you can survive for ten long-standing banks with a market share of less than 0.4 percent, six of which ended last year with net losses, as long as their shareholders still have the patience to cover these disadvantages. Due to all this, I would not be surprised if the relationship of forces in the banking sector has changed dramatically in the foreseeable future, but before something similar happens in other countries, "said Brkic.

In favor of this thesis, there is also a low degree of concentration in the Serbian market. In Croatia, the four largest banks account for almost 70% of the total assets, and in Serbia the four largest banks approved nearly 47% of all loans. Therefore, Ivan Nikolic, a member of the Board of Governors of the National Bank of Serbia, believes that consolidation is not only expected but also desirable.

"This is a positive process, as it will increase the performance and strengthen competition among banks, and this will bring benefits to customers, because they will have cheaper loans," said Nikolic, who recently told the Beta agency that he does not see the problem in fact That banks buy domestic investments. Previously, says the board member of NBS, "experience has shown that foreign owners are not always successful."

In the group of six of the largest, currently there are only two banks with majority national capital, Komercijalna and AIK Banka, the sooner the "book" could save only one letter, since the state is already looking for a buyer for Komercijalna Banka.

If you look at the results of the business for 2017, the largest amount of money for the purchase of new banks has AIK Bank, which last year recorded a net profit of 118 million euros. In addition, Miodrag Kostic has already shown clear intentions for a greater expansion both in Serbia and in the region.

He is practically the only businessman in Serbia who, in a way, has already entered the EU as co-owner of Gorenjska banka. Therefore, it is now possible for AIK Bank customers to offer additional benefits and facilitate their business with EU partners and through a bank in Slovenia.

The approval of the European and Slovenian central banks for the purchase of the majority stake in Gorenjska banka for Kostic is a confirmation of the highest place that its AIK bank has of strong, stable and liquid capital, and these are characteristics that the savings accounts are Having more and more accounts, especially as interest rates rates at the historically lower level.

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