Raasuke: Lithuania is the weakest Baltic banking market

30.04.2010, 09:59

The Lithuanian banking market is the Baltic nations’ weakest and “still bleeds quite badly,” said Erkki Raasuke, Swedbank AB’s chief financial officer. Bloomber quoted Raasuke saying at a conference in Tallinn on Thursday that Estonia’s market was recovering, while Latvia has bottomed out.

Swedbank, the Baltic countries’ biggest lender, reported this week its first quarterly profit in more than a year and said earnings are likely to improve as Baltic loan impairments decline. The bank said two days ago that it’s likely to return to profit in Estonia first.

“Lithuania’s market still bleeds quite badly today, mainly the retail market that is tied to the high unemployment,” Raasuke said. “Loans overdue for more than 60 days are still growing in Lithuania, while they have reached a bottom in Estonia and Latvia.”

Loans overdue for more than 60 days rose to 1.64 billion litai ($630 million), or 10.1 percent of total credit, by the end of the first quarter, from 1.58 billion litai in the previous quarter, Swedbank’s Lithuanian unit said on its Web site on April 27.

Lithuanian bank losses in the first quarter increased more than 11-fold from a year earlier, to 232 million litai, the country’s central bank said this week. Eight of Lithuania’s 17 banks reported losses.

Problem loans for banks operating in the Baltic countries, led by Swedbank, SEB and Nordea Bank, will continue to grow in the coming quarters, Moody’s Investors Service said on April 26.