Danske Bank lowers threshold for applying negative rates on deposits

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danske Bank DANSKE.CO on Wednesday said it would lower the threshold for applying negative interest rates on retail deposits, bringing the bank's policy more into line with the rest of the market.

FILE PHOTO: A view of the Danske bank headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

Danish banks have been dealing with negative interest rates for some time, prompting many to pass them on to customers with large deposits.

“We continue to be in the extraordinary situation that negative interest rates have almost become the norm or at least will continue for a prolonged period of time,” Chief Financial Officer Stephan Engels said in a statement.

“It would not be viable for this situation not to be reflected in our interest terms.”

Danske was the last of Denmark’s large banks to impose negative rates on retail customers’ deposits, which it did in February this year. But it only affected around 1% of customers.

From Jan. 1 next year, Danske will lower the current threshold for applying negative rates from 1.5 million Danish crowns ($235,231) to 250,000, the same threshold applied by several other Danish lenders.

Danske said it would apply the same rate, -0.6%, as it currently charges. That reflects the rate the lender pays by depositing money at Denmark’s central bank.

Danske shares were down 1.4% at 0933 GMT, in a mostly positive Copenhagen blue chip index.

Sydbank analyst Mikkel Emil Jensen welcomed Danske’s move, saying it was both expected and positive, as Danske would be able to transfer some of the costs of depositing money in the central bank at negative rates to customers.

“They couldn’t wait any longer, they had to pass on the bill,” Jensen said.

The move will affect 10% of Danske Bank’s customers, Chief Executive Chris Vogelzang told Reuters.

“All things being equal, it will have a positive effect of 500 million Danish crowns”.

Denmark’s biggest lender on Wednesday also reported a net third-quarter profit of 2.1 billion Danish crowns ($328.3 million), above an average estimate of 1.7 billion crowns in an analyst poll compiled by the Danske Bank.

Last week, Danske Bank raised its full-year profit guidance, citing lower costs and improved market conditions.

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard, editing by Louise Heavens, Jane Merriman and Emelia Sithole-Matarise