28 Feb 2009

Rescue package for East European banks

7:23 am on 28 February 2009

Three development banks have launched a 24.5 billion euro loan programme for central and Eastern European banks and firms.

The World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and European Investment Bank said the two-year loan plan will provide quick, large-scale financing to banks and ensure smaller companies would not be shut off from capital.

The announcement gave a lift to the region's battered currencies, but they soon retreated as markets judged there was not that much new money in the deal compared to the funds already announced and the kind of financing needed to keep growth going.

The package is the development banks' contribution to EU efforts to help the region, which has seen some of the bloc's newer members seek emergency funding from the International Monetary Fund.

The president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Thomas Mirow, told French newspaper Le Figaro that eastern European banks could need some $US150 billion in recapitalisation and $US200 billion in refinancing to stave off the risk of a banking failure in the region.

The announcement of the loan programme came ahead of a European Union summit on Sunday at which Hungary will propose a 180 billion euro aid package to leaders who are hoping to bridge differences hindering unified action on the financial crisis.