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August 15, 2018

Turkish lira freefall straining leasing backer EBRD, reports suggest

The slump in Turkey's currency the lira could pose a sustainable but serious challenge to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, whose investments include wholesale capital loans to the country's leasing companies.

By Lorenzo Migliorato

The slump in Turkey’s currency the lira could pose a manageable but serious challenge to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), whose investments include wholesale capital loans to the country’s leasing companies.

According to sources within the bank interviewed by Reuters, the EBRD had successfully stress-tested its balance sheets for a 40% drop in the value of the lira in the past, but would now be monitoring the situation until its board meets again in September. The fall in the Turkish lira has already went beyond that envisioned in the EBRD stress-test scenario.

“I think if it [the lira] goes into a freefall, we might have an emergency message,” one of the sources said.

Turkey became the EBRD’s largest market of operations after the bank stopped lending in Russia in 2014. Its €7.3bn (£6.8bn) of investments in the country include double-digit-million leasing and SME financing loans to QNB Finans, Garanti Leasing, Aklease, Yapi Kredi, TSKB and Isbank.

Leasing Life analysis of data from the EBRD’s website shows the bank has invested or committed at least €223m in capital for leasing or SME on-lending since 2013, with another €50m for Garanti Leasing being considered as of June. Most of the principal on the loans is still under repayment.

The lira began its fall following political unrest in Turkey last year, and the crisis precipitated in the last two weeks over the threat of diplomatic rupture with the US.

The currency’s progressive weakening already took a hit on LeasePlan, the Dutch fleet and leasing provider, which in Q1 of this year reported a €19.8m profit hit from the country. In half-year results published prior to this month’s crisis, the company said it had successfully implemented a mitigation strategy for the country and was not looking to mark further impairments.

Two of the European banking groups most under scrutiny due to their exposure to Turkey, BNP Paribas and UniCredit, both have leasing operations in the country, the latter through subsidiary Yapi Kredi.

Other multinational lessors active in the country include Grenke, Societe Generale Equipment Finance, DLL and Siemens Financial Services.

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