Poland’s central bank moved to resolve the biggest threat to the country’s financial industry, offering commercial lenders help in converting $30 billion of Swiss-franc loans into zloty, Bloomberg News reported. The banks asked the monetary authority to step in after a multitude of lawsuits over the loans forced them into mounting provisions. But the stiff conditions attached to aid, which include halting dividends and shoring up capital, are already facing a pushback from the industry, meaning the deal may take time to hash out.
Poland’s MBank SA and ING Bank Slaski SA are recognizing potential losses from legal battles over Swiss-franc loans, moving the industry closer to resolving a dispute that has long clouded its prospects, Bloomberg News reported. The unit of Commerzbank AG set aside a record 439.5 million zloty ($118 million) to cover risks from its foreign-currency mortgages in the final three months of 2020, likely putting the lender in red for the quarter.
Polish carrier LOT is acquiring Thomas Cook’s German airline Condor, creating a leading aviation group in Europe carrying more than 20 million passengers a year, the companies said on Friday. Condor, which according to sources was sold for about 300 million euros ($333 million), operates a fleet of more than 50 aircraft while LOT has a fleet of 80 aircraft, Reuters reported. LOT chief executive Rafal Milczarski said he sees a possible order of around 30 planes from Boeing and Airbus.
Condor, the airline that used to belong to Thomas Cook, has attracted interest from buyout groups Apollo and Greybull as well as Polish carrier LOT, which are expected to submit final bids next week, a person close to the matter said, Reuters reported. Each of the bidders could tie up with some of Germany’s leading tour operators in a potential deal to buy Condor, the person said on Thursday. Condor and Apollo declined to comment, while Greybull and LOT were not immediately available for comment.
In a related story, Reuters reported that Thomas Cook’s Polish business Neckermann Polska said on Wednesday it was insolvent as the effects of the demise of the world’s oldest travel firm spread to central Europe, leaving around 3,600 Polish tourists stuck abroad. Thomas Cook, which started life in 1841 running local rail excursions and grew to pioneer package holidays, collapsed early on Monday stranding hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers.
It was too good a deal to pass up. Starting more than a decade ago, Poles got the chance to take out mortgages denominated in Swiss francs with interest rates less than half the prevailing level for loans in Polish zloty, Bloomberg News reported. More than a million people jumped at the opportunity. Then in 2015, the Swiss unpegged the franc from the euro and it surged in value, just as the zloty was weakening. Some loans doubled in zloty terms, leaving homeowners struggling to pay. Thousands sued, and a European court ruling expected this year could afford them relief.
Poland’s government has proposed the country’s first balanced central government budget in three decades, as the ruling Law and Justice party tries to boost its reputation for economic management ahead of October’s parliamentary election, the Financial Times reported. Since coming to power in 2015, the socially conservative Law and Justice has sharply boosted welfare spending, with handouts to pensioners and families playing a key role in cementing support for the party among older and less well-off Poles.
Rafal Lis almost single-handedly created Poland’s private-debt market. In seven years, he built his company, CVI Dom Maklerski sp. z o.o., into a 5.9 billion zloty ($1.6 billion) boutique asset manager. Then, late last year, he feared it would all come crashing down, Bloomberg News reported. The worst day, he says, was Nov. 20. “My knees buckled as I saw the redemption requests,” Lis recalls in an interview at CVI’s Warsaw headquarters.