By Marta Maciag
GDANSK, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Poland's Bank Millennium MILP.WA aims to conclude 1,000 settlements every quarter with customers regarding Swiss franc loans, Chief Executive Joao Bras Jorge said on Friday.
"We aim to reach 1,000 settlements (...) our energy and concentration this year is to try to achieve as many settlements with borrowers as possible," Jorge told a press conference after the bank's third-quarter results.
Hundreds of thousands of Poles took out mortgages at Polish banks in foreign currencies, mainly in Swiss francs, attracted by lower interest rates. They are now repaying them in far bigger instalments than expected, however, after the Swiss franc soared against the zloty and following interest rate hikes in Switzerland.
Millennium Bank's Chief Financial Officer Fernando Bicho also told the news conference that the bank would not give any estimates regarding the impact on costs of an extension of the credit vacation scheme for borrowers, as the criteria for qualifying for the programme are still unclear.
Last year the Polish government introduced a so-called credit vacation to help borrowers deal with higher interest rates in Poland. The scheme allowed mortgage owners to postpone up to eight loan payments in 2022 and 2023 and there are plans to extend it next year.
"The impact depends on the level of interest rates that will be applied during the implementation of this law (...) we are not giving any estimates, because there are still elements that are unclear from our point of view regarding the criteria for qualifying for these credit vacations", Bicho said.
The bank's cost of risk is set to rise, he said.
"We anticipate that the cost of risk will be higher in the next quarters, it will be at a more (normal) level, which means for us closer to 50 basis points. It won't happen immediately, in the fourth quarter, but we should get to that level next year", the CFO said.
"(...) The bank will have prudence to keep reinforcing the capital structure and not jump to dividend payment phase very soon", Jorge said.
Bank Millennium posted a third quarter net profit of 103 million zlotys ($24.40 million), reversing a 1 billion zloty loss a year earlier.
($1 = 4.2214 zlotys)
(Reporting by Marta Maciag; additional reporting by Adrianna Ebert and Anna Banacka; Editing by Susan Fenton)
((Marta.Maciag@thomsonreuters.com; +48 58 746 91 96))
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