Friday, 25 January 2013

Malaysian banks optimise depposit rates and lending

PETALING JAYA: Competition for fixed deposits (FDs) is set to continue as banks eye new liquidity by offering better interest rates to depositors following the postponement of the Basel III liquidity requirement rules. Industry analysts said banks would also likely optimise their lending ability moving forward.

Ambrose: ‘Malaysia has a well-functioning banking system while Europe does not and the US barely does.’

“It's not good to be too conservative in lending. It is important for the overall economic wellbeing of the country and it gives life to businesses, bringing prosperity to the country,” said a banking analyst from one of the four largest local banks by asset size.

According to Gerald Ambrose, the managing director of fund management company Aberdeen Asset Management Sdn Bhd, the stricter Basel III requirements to ensure banks are well capitalised may not be too suitable for Malaysia which presently has a well-functioning banking system.

“Malaysia has a well-functioning banking system while Europe does not and the US barely does. I think capital requirements that are too strict may potentially stifle economic activities,” Ambrose told StarBiz over the telephone recently.

Commenting on recent banking statistics, RHB Research in a recent note said the November 2012 system statistics showed loans growth had eased to 11.2% year-on-year (y-o-y) from 11.8% y-o-y growth in October 2012.

“The slower pace of growth was attributed to higher repayments during the month, partly mitigated by stronger disbursements. Meanwhile, household loans continued to expand at a steady pace of 11.6% yoy,” RHB Research analyst David Chong said in the report.

Chong noted Nov 2012's total system deposits grew 11.3% yoy with this growth being broad based' with loans to deposit ratio unchanged month-on-month (m-o-m) at 81.6%, the system core capital ratio was at 13.4% and risk-weighted capital ratio stood unchanged m-o-m at 15.3%.

According to Alliance Research banking analyst Cheah King Yoong, these statistics showed the domestic banking system remained “well capitalised” and “resilient to withstand unanticipated shocks to the financial system, if any.”

Cheah added that lending activities did not pick up towards the end of 2012 which could be due to both lenders and borrowers turning cautious with the impending general election which is widely expected to be held in March.

“We reiterate that there could be two potential de-rating catalysts, which pose downside risks to our 7-9% loan growth forecasts for 2013.

“These are (that) lending activities could decelerate in the first quarter of 2013 with slowing corporate loan disbursements and consumers turning cautious pending the upcoming general election,” Cheah said.

“Post-election, should the federal government implement (the) goods and services tax, resume its subsidies rationalisation programme and raise the electricity tariff to close its budget deficit; these fiscal tightening policies could have an adverse impact on consumer spending and consumer loans in the later part of 2013,” he added

By DANIEL KHOO danielkhoo@thestar.com.my
 
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