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MNI (London)
By Silvia Marchetti
     ROME (MNI) - The volume of net bad loans sitting on Italian lenders'
balance sheets fell to E54.5 billion in February, down from E60 billion a month
earlier, Italy's Banking Association said Tuesday.
     It is among the lowest levels recorded in the last three years, as banks
continue to boost their financial position, reducing the stock of bad loans.
     February net bad loans fell significantly, down E32.3 billion compared to
the E86.8 billion peak of December 2016, the ABI said in its April outlook
report. In the last 14 months the volume of bad loans has  shrunk over 37%, said
the lobby.
     The ratio of net bad loans as a proportion of total lending stood at 3.16%
in February. At the end of 2016 the ratio was 4.89%, the highest since 2015.
Before the outbreak of the crisis in 2007, the ratio stood at just 0.86%.
     The ratio of net bad loans as a proportion of total bank assets (capital
and reserves) fell to 12.36% in February, down from 16.69% a year earlier, the
ABI said.
     The general downward trend in NPLs seems to be consolidating, as lenders
clean their balance sheets. Progress has been made in addressing excessive bad
loans and bank recapitalisation needs.
     According to recent Bank of Italy data, the total stock of NPLs, net of
loan loss provisions, has fallen from a peak of E200 billion in 2015 to E140
billion at the end of 2017. 
     Italy's government passed a decree in 2016 aimed at tackling the emergency
via a plan aimed at supporting lenders dispose of risky loans by speeding up
disposal procedures.
     Bank of Italy's governor Ignazio Visco recently acknowledged that lenders
had made significant efforts in cleaning their balance sheets, but again called
for the creation of a Europe-wide NPLs market.
     Market operators and public authorities have boosted efforts to create a
specific market for NPLs in order to reduce the remaining burden still weighing
on banks' balance sheets and hampering credit revival.
     The ABI report also confirmed "consolidation" in the recent lending revival
to both firms and families, with a 2.1% annual increase in March. The trough in
the country's prolonged credit crunch, triggered by the triple-dip recession,
was in 2012 when it fell 4.5% y/y.
     In March, according to latest updated data by ABI, mortgage lending grew an
annual 3.6%, demonstrating that family consumption rates and purchasing power
were finally recovering as the economy picks up.
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email: les.commons@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: MAIDS$,M$E$$$,M$I$$$,M$X$$$,M$XDS$]
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 | les.commons@marketnews.com
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 | les.commons@marketnews.com

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