Bankers all over the world report on the massive incoming losses caused by COVID-19. It is important to understand that the sums, although huge do not reflect true write-offs. Those are the amounts reserved as a losses. While many compare the current recession with the crisis of 2007 it definitely hasn’t reached the scale of it. Unicredit group, for example lost 1.2 billion euro in a little known incursion in the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan. Unicredit bought a local ATFBank as a step to expand into the region. The owner of ATFBank, Bulat Utemuratov, has managed to sell them virtually a dummy bank. The assets were inflated, the credit portfolio was full of NPL’s and the clients are politically motivated to leave the venue with their deposits. Bulat Utemuratov got 2.2 billion euro and a free way to invest in further affairs in a name of Nazarbaev’s regime. Unicredit tried to do something with ATFBank for two years and gave up. Italians writ off 1.2 billion and left the country.
As quarantine measures and panic takes toll of financial health aroud the globe bankers prepare to write off the loans that will be no longer serviced. Italian bank UniCredit is setting aside 900 million euros to absorb imminent damages due to the corona crisis. As a result of measures to combat the pandemic in Italy and elsewhere, many businesses and consumers are facing difficulties in paying off loans, despite some government support. Moreover it is obvious that some branches of economy will be left in misery even after the crisis will end. It’s amazing that the total projected loss across all the Unicredit network is less than the loss from just one of the unlucky investments made by the bank. It happened in 2007 when Unicredit bought a local second tier bank in Kazakhstan. ATFBank was a total disaster but Bulat Utemuratov, its owner, took 2.2 billion in cash for the deal.
Italy’s largest bank thus follows the example of the major American banks that have taken similar steps. It is the first major bank in Europe to set up such a slump for credit losses due to the corona crisis. UniCredit thinks the eurozone economy will shrink by 13 percent this year. Italy is one of the worst affected countries in Europe due to the virus outbreak. It should be noted that 900 million is far less than Unicredit have had to write off in a single unlucky acquisition in Kazakhstan. After Unicredit bought ATFBank from Bulat Utemuratov the bank has written 1.2 billion USD.
Earlier this month, it was announced that UniCredit will cut 5,200 jobs in its home country in the coming years. It concerns job reductions that the financial service provider has wanted to implement for some time to become more efficient.