German lender HSH Nordbank denies it may need state aid

FRANKFURT, Sept 30 Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:28am EDT

FRANKFURT, Sept 30 (Reuters) - German public sector lender HSH Nordbank rejected a magazine report on Sunday that said the bank saw a rising likelihood that it would need to draw on a 7 billion euro ($9 billion) state guarantee facility.

The bank, which specialises in the troubled ship financing market, has suffered during the slowdown in the global economy and reported sharply lower first-half results last month.

Der Spiegel magazine said that HSH Chief Executive Paul Lerbinger had told Hamburg politicians that the chances were higher than 50 percent that the bank would need to use the facility provided by its state owners before the end of the year.

The magazine also cited a confidential internal HSH report to that effect.

"HSH Nordbank rejects the Spiegel's account," the bank said in a statement. "This situation will not come to pass."

The lender also pointed out that the guarantee rules require it to take a first loss of 3.2 billion euros before state support can kick in. It added that the loss on the portfolio guaranteed by the state was only about 233 million euros at the end of June.

HSH Nordbank said last month that the gloomy outlook for shipping would burden the bank for the foreseeable future. It warned that the trough in shipping would be reached in the next 12-18 months and it would need to boost its loan loss provisions as a result.

Credit rating agency Moody's last week said it was considering downgrading the bank's long-term ratings over concerns about its operating outlook after the first-half results and uncertainties about its future business model.

The lender is about 90 percent owned by the German city state of Hamburg and the state of Schleswig-Holstein, plus local savings banks. Trusts advised by U.S. investor J.C. Flowers hold the remainder. ($1 = 0.7773 euros) (Reporting by Jan Schwartz and Jonathan Gould; Editing by David Goodman)