Economic revival and high growth of lending

Published: 13/11/2002

At the meeting held on Wednesday, 13 November 2002, the Council of the Croatian National Bank, chaired by the Governor, Željko Rohatinski, PhD, reviewed recent economic and monetary developments, examined a report on the Croatian banking system developments in the second quarter of this year and made a number of decisions acting in accordance with its authority.

The third quarter of this year was marked by a strong revival of economic activity: industrial production grew by 7.4 percent, retail trade turnover rose at double-digit rates in July and August and construction recovered. In addition, these developments were accompanied by a rise in employment. The economic revival is taking place in the context of a continued macroeconomic stability - the annual retail inflation rate was 2.1 percent in October, while the annual growth of producer prices of industrial products was 0.6 percent. The exchange rate continues to fluctuate within a narrow band.

September also saw a rise in foreign currency deposits and the continuation of a strong upward trend in commercial bank lending. At the end of September, household and enterprise lending grew by 35.5 and 20.3 percent respectively compared with the same month last year. As suggested by August data on interest rate developments, commercial banks' lending rates fell again, as well as interest rates on kuna deposits.

The analysis of the situation in the banking system shows restrained growth of total banking system assets in the first half of the year, with net lending rising by 17.35 percent. Household lending accounted for 44.26 percent of total lending in late June and its amount came closer to that of enterprise lending, which accounted for 46.62 percent of total lending.

Following the acquisition of bank operating licenses by several savings banks and several bank mergers, the number of banks operating in Croatia has fallen to 46. The system is still marked by a high degree of concentration as two largest banking groups account for more than 50 percent of total assets and six largest banking groups account for approximately 80 percent.

The CNB Council gave its approval to IntesaBci Holding International S.A., Luxembourg, for increasing its majority share in Privredna banka d.d. Zagreb from the current 66.3 percent to more than 75 percent of the share capital. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was given approval to acquire a share of more than 20 percent in Privredna banka.

The CNB Council approved the nominations of Christoph Schöfböck, PhD, for member of the management board of HVB Bank Croatia d.d. Zagreb, Mr. Ante Samodol for member of the management board of Nava banka d.d. Zagreb and Mr. Ludwig Wagner and Peter Harold, PhD, for members of the management board of Splitska banka d.d. Split. Ms. Marija Šola was given approval to chair the management board of Partner banka d.d. Zagreb for another term of office.