Judging from the latest data, one in two corporate loans taken out in the third quarter of last year were aimed at maintaining current liquidity, while the level of borrowing for new investments was significantly reduced. Thus, the share of investment loans was reduced to 25%, while as much as 61% of credit lines were spent on maintaining liquidity and financing working capital.
The data show that, at the end of the third quarter, there was a year-on-year growth in the number of approved corporate loans of 13.3%. Despite this growth, what is of concern is the structure of borrowing, which shows that most of the loans approved this quarter were used for maintaining current liquidity and financing working capital, with 1.2 billion euro alone approved under the guarantee scheme programme.
Of this amount, 519.8 million euro was allocated to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs in the third quarter.
Experts say that such data should not be surprising because the economic crisis, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the end of which is not yet near, has resulted in increased caution of companies in terms of taking out new loans, especially those related to new investments.
This uncertainty imposes new rules for doing business in all banking markets of the world, including Serbia, and although the lending conditions are extremely favourable due to the low Euribor and interest rates, companies are not inclined to opt for investment loans.
According to Zoran Petrovic, chairman of the board of directors of Raiffeisen Bank and chairman of the board of directors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Serbia, this behaviour of companies should not come as a surprise.
“Of course, people are more careful. But, at the same time, according to a survey conducted among the members of the American Chamber of Commerce, two-thirds of them expect investment growth in 2021. According to the latest data available in the third quarter of 2020, the share of investment loans fell to 25%. Logically, most of the recently approved corporate loans were for cash and working capital, or 61%,” Petrovic added.
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