ING's Polish unit says payment holidays not affecting risk costs

The logo of ING bank is pictured at the entrance of the group's main office in Brussels, Belgium September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

GDANSK, Nov 3 (Reuters) - The Polish unit of Dutch lender ING (INGP.WA) does not see a direct impact on its cost of risk from payment holidays for borrowers, its chief financial officer said on Thursday.

The Polish government has introduced so-called "credit vacations" to help borrowers deal with higher interest rates. The scheme allows mortgage owners to postpone up to eight loan payments in 2022 and 2023.

"We are analysing the loan portfolio very thoroughly and (...) at the moment there is no direct impact on costs of risks," said Bozena Graczyk, referring to money banks set aside against risky loans.

CEO Brunon Bartkiewicz added the bank was taking a conservative stance on borrowers' ability to repay loans.

"The clients who had irregularities in their repayments before the start of credit vacations, and who no longer have them afterwards, are still treated as clients at risk," he said.

When asked about Wednesday's downgrade in the outlook for Polish banks to "negative" from "stable" by Moody's credit rating agency, Graczyk and Bartkiewicz cited the impact of the payment holidays on the sector's growth.

"I am not surprised (by the downgrade) ... the situation with which we are dealing in 2022 raises doubts and anxiety amid our foreign partners," said Bartkiewicz.

"The 12 billion zloty ($2.48 billion) impact of the credit vacations depletes capital from the banking sector and is one of the main factors that weakens banks' ability to grow their balances and their loan offers for a long time," added Graczyk.

The bank reported a net loss of 317.3 million zlotys for the third quarter, with net interest income plunging to 173.3 million zlotys from 1.24 billion the same time last year.

($1 = 4.8346 zlotys)

Reporting by Mateusz Rabiega and Adrianna Ebert Editing by Mark Potter

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