Ukraine unblocks NPL sales by state banks
On 15 April 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted guidelines (Guidelines) for state-owned banks on the management of their non-performing loans (NPLs). Among other things, the Guidelines established the long-awaited procedure for discounted sale of NPLs by state-owned banks.
Until now, state-owned banks were reluctant to sell NPLs with discounts (i.e., below par value), arguing that, in the absence of clear guidance from the government, a discounted sale might result in criminal proceedings against the banks’ governing bodies for mismanagement of state funds.
As a result, over the past few years, when Ukraine faced unprecedented financial and economic instability and a significant number of borrowers defaulted on their loans, Ukrainian state-owned banks have accumulated two-thirds of the total NPL volume of the Ukrainian banking sector. Currently, over 63% of their loan portfolio is recognized as non-performing, with the total value of their NPLs amounting to UAH 403 billion (c. USD 15 billion).
The procedure for sale of NPLs, set out in the Guidelines, includes the following key features:
- Loans must be sold through a public auction using the Dutch auction model, where the price of an NPL portfolio is gradually lowered until it gets a bid.
- Loans cannot be sold to the borrower, its ultimate beneficial owner, pledgor, guarantor or other related parties.
- The initial and reserved (minimum) prices for the loans must be determined in accordance with the criteria set out the Guidelines.
The adoption of the Guidelines signals significant progress in addressing the NPL issue in Ukraine. We trust that the Guidelines should facilitate active sales of NPLs by state-owned banks.
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