Sparkasse Bank, like never before, "grew" last year

Sanel Kuturica, Zlatica Civkaroski, Aleksandar Djorjevic and Nina Nedanoska presented the results of Sparkase

Sparkasse bankers do not expect any special changes in interest rates this year, regardless of the expectations that the European Central Bank will reduce the basic interest rates.

Since Sparkase Bank has been in Macedonia, last year it showed the best results, announced the Management Board of the bank, which held a press conference. The bank's assets reached 1,5 billion euros, which is a growth of 13 percent compared to 2022, making it the fourth position in terms of market share. The bank ended last year with 155.000 active customers, a 30 percent increase over 2022. The total growth of the credit portfolio is 11 percent. Last year the bank made a net profit of 25 million euros, which is 47 percent more than in 2022, but as the Management Board says, the profit could have been higher, but they are not racing for profit.

– We don't want to be a store, for customers to come and take credit, but for them to make a smart decision. We are more conservative in terms of lending as part of an Austrian group. But it is for the benefit of the customers. We do not race for profit. In banking, there is a trend to buy securities issued by the National Bank and they had very high interest rates. But we are mainly credit oriented. We want to give loans, and without them there is no economic growth. Of course, we also buy bonds if necessary - said Sanel Kusturica, president of the Management Board of Sparkase Bank.

Nina Nedanoska, vice-president of the Management Board, says that Sparkase is one of the leading corporate banks in Macedonia.

– The bank confirmed its position on the market as a market leader for corporate clients, achieving a market share in lending to legal entities of 17,3 percent and a market share of 17,1 percent in the section of deposits for legal entities. At the same time, we are considered a market leader in stimulating the green economy, supporting 54 projects and investments of 98 million euros and investments in renewable energy sources in the total amount of 92 million euros. In the population segment, on the other hand, we ended 2023 with the credit portfolio, whose share in the market is 13,5 percent - said Nedanoska.

Zlatica Cifkaroski, who has two decades of banking experience, has recently been a member of the Management Board. She said that the banking sector has shown great resilience in these crisis times.

- We can see that through the controlled level of inflow of non-functional placements, which caused us anxiety during the crisis periods we went through. We also had inflationary pressures and we thought that through a certain indication of interest rates there would be some inflow of non-performing loans, but that did not happen and that credit risk did not materialize. Sparkasse Bank has also successfully modified that part in the past period - said Cifkaroski.
She said that the focus of Sparkasse Bank is digitalization and robotization, in order to provide a higher level of digital activities to customers, without forgetting all the risks that the digital era brings.

Aleksandar Djorjevic is also a new member of the bank's Management Board. He said that "opening an account is the first step towards financial health" and pointed out that the bank invests a lot in financial education of young people.

In response to a journalist's question about interest rates, Sparkasse bankers do not expect any special changes this year. They agree that the expectation is that the European Central Bank, which will soon announce the base interest rate, will announce some reduction.

- We will see what the correction of interest rates will be by the European Central Bank. I don't think it will be significant, but there will be some correction. It automatically has an effect on existing loans that are repaid, which are linked to the Euribor. As for the interest rates of the new loans, it depends on how much of a correction it will be. If it's a small correction, it won't have a dramatic effect on users. And if there are certain corrections, they will not be felt to that extent by the users, that is, they will not have such a positive effect. For something like that, I think it will take a longer period. This year, no dramatic change will happen - said Kusturica.

Nedanoska, on the other hand, emphasized that until now the interest rates in Macedonia were not so related to the European ones.

- We give lower interest rates, so a solid company can get a loan with an interest rate of less than 4 percent, so the Austrian colleagues ask how this is possible, when they have such a loan with 7 percent interest - said Nedanoska.

Sparkasse Bank is part of the Erste and Steuermarkische Sparkasse group with 17 million customers and 3 billion euros in profit.

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