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Financials

UPDATE 1-Poland's Millennium sees no need to raise capital for FX loans settlements

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WARSAW, May 11 (Reuters) - Bank Millennium, the Polish unit of Portuguese lender BCP, sees no need to raise capital to cover the costs of potential settlements with clients over Swiss franc loans, the bank’s management said on Tuesday.

The Polish Supreme Court was expected to issue a highly anticipated guidance on FX loans later on Tuesday that might have an impact on the way banks reach settlements with their clients, whose loan repayments ballooned due to franc appreciation against the zloty.

The court’s building has, however, been evacuated due to a bomb threat.

“Our scenario shows that we have a strong capital surplus that allows us to deal with some negative scenarios regarding the court verdicts of the cases we have already in the court and even assuming some additional numbers that would come to the courts in the future,” Millennium’s Chief Financial Officer Fernando Bicho told a press conference.

Foreign exchange loans and especially Swiss franc mortgages, remain a major risk factor for Polish banks, which face an increased number of lawsuits from franc mortgage holders.

Millennium reported a loss of 311 million zlotys ($82.8 million) for the first quarter mostly due to provisions for risks related to foreign currency loans.

“For the time being we believe we have a sound capital position that would allow us to absorb not only the losses that we already incurred in the fourth quarter and first quarter of this year but also some that still could come later,” Bicho also said.

Polish financial market regulator KNF proposed in December that lenders could offer voluntary settlements to their clients, including retrospectively settling Swiss franc mortgages as zloty loans.

Millennium’s Chief Executive Joao Bras Jorge praised KNF’s proposal and said Millennium will likely take its decision on potential settlements with clients between August and September.

The bank will not have to raise capital to cover the settlement costs, he added.

KNF estimates that a plan for settlements with clients that it proposed in December would cost banks 34.5 billion zlotys compared to estimated cost to banks from court cases of 70.5 billion to 234 billion zlotys. ($1 = 3.7549 zlotys) (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Anna Koper; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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