• German lender sets aside 1 billion euros to cover defaults
  • Bank sees first loss in seven years on slump in shipping

Norddeutsche Landesbank boosted provisions for bad loans nearly fivefold to 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), as Germany’s biggest shipping lender prepares for its first full-year loss since 2009.

NordLB, controlled by the state of Lower Saxony, posted a loss of 406 million euros in the first half as it battles a prolonged slump in maritime markets, including eight years of crisis in the container segment. That compares with a profit of 290 million euros in the same period last year.

“The shipping crisis, which further intensified in the first half of the year, has necessitated impairments that were higher than planned,” Chief Executive Officer Gunter Dunkel said in a statement. The bank lowered its outlook for the year, now anticipating a “significant” loss. It had projected a “negative result” in the spring.

“NordLB is capable of absorbing this loss in full,” Dunkel said.

NordLB’s pessimistic view highlights risks at other German banks, which hold roughly one-quarter of the about 400 billion euros in global shipping loans. Under pressure to unwind sour legacy maritime assets, banks including HSH Nordbank AG and Commerzbank AG are also trying to shrink their loan books.

NordLB, which includes tarnished maritime unit Bremer Landesbank, aims to cut its maritime portfolio to as little as 12 billion euros by 2021 from 17.9 billion euros at the end of June. The bank earlier this week announced a deal to sell $1.5 billion in performing and faulty shipping loans linked to about 100 vessels to New York-based KKR & Co. and an unnamed sovereign wealth fund.

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