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Serbian December Lending Activity Stagnant, Late Payments Rise

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Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Bank lending activity in Serbia stagnated in December as late payments continued to expand, the Serbian Bank Association said.

New loans rose a nominal 0.2 percent in December, bringing the full-year loan growth to 18.8 percent, while the “real growth rate was much lower because of inflation,” which stood at 12.2 percent in December, Slavica Kovacevic, the chief of the association’s Credit Bureau, told reporters in Belgrade today.

The stagnation followed three months of credit growth, driven by subsidized loans backed by the government. The loans, for which the government pays banks a margin to make sure they offer cheaper credit to corporate clients, were “exhausted” by early December and “we hope there will be subsidized loans this year to liven up credit activity, because economic growth depends on credit activity,” Kovacevic said.

The rate of late payments, defined as behind by 15 days or more for corporate clients and at least 60 days for individuals, expanded to 17.3 percent among companies and 4.6 percent among households. The rates declined between August and November as subsidized loans offered companies a chance to repay some old debts to banks, Kovacevic said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at gfilipovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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