Russian consumer lender halts some loans

Business Materials 22 September 2007 20:16 (UTC +04:00)

( Reuters ) - Russia's top consumer lender, Russian Standard Bank, has temporarily halted issuing cash loans as a result of the global credit crunch, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

The FT quoted Chief Executive Dmitry Levin as saying the stoppage would last to the end of this month. The bank was also tightening requirements for credit cards and point-of-sale loans.

"Because of the growth in the cost of borrowing, we have to concentrate on key areas," Levin told the FT.

His remarks followed a report on Friday in local financial daily RBK that Russian Standard had slapped a moratorium on some lending.

Russian Standard, owned by vodka-to-banking billionaire Roustam Tariko, has grabbed 70 percent of Russia's credit card market. But it is heavily reliant on wholesale foreign funding to underpin its aggressive business model.

Global money markets all but dried up in August when defaults on U.S. mortgages triggered a scare about the extent to which this and other high-risk debt had been repackaged and sold on to financial institutions around the world.

While intensive central bank intervention has eased the flow of global funds, banks remain wary of lending to each other for fear of exposure to tainted debt.

Levin, in an interview with Reuters last week, said Russian Standard would have no problem redeeming a $300 million Eurobond on September 28, but would suspend issuance of senior bonds into 2008 until markets loosen up.