All eyes on non-performing loans

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Leong Yam Meng

PETALING JAYA: Although the sale of non-performing loans (NPLs) by banks in the country is rare, it is an area to closely watch for as loan moratoriums draw to an end, according to debt management firm Collectius.

Collectius Malaysia managing director Leong Yam Meng told StarBiz he believes NPL sales is a space to watch for with loan moratoriums coming to an end, as banks will start to have a clearer picture on their NPL positions in the coming months.

The company recently concluded the first NPL transaction involving a bank in Malaysia this year, and the first in the market since CIMB Group Holdings Bhd sold a portion of its NPLs in 2020.

The process, which was endorsed by Bank Negara, involved a global bank in Malaysia selling a portfolio of NPLs to Collectius.

On the sale of NPLs by banks, Leong said: “Albeit rare, we have seen several Malaysian banks prior to the Covid-19 pandemic such as CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, the country’s second-largest banking group, selling a small portion of its NPLs in 2020.

“Other than that, in 2019, AMMB Holdings Bhd sold NPLs from its two subsidiaries, AmBank (M) Bhd and AmBank Islamic Bhd, to Aiqon Capital Group Sdn Bhd at a value of RM553.91mil.

Leong added that on the whole, the sale of NPLs has historically been rare in Malaysia and is a tightly controlled process requiring approvals from Bank Negara.

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“However, the acquisition of NPL we recently made from a global bank on a secured portfolio was the first one to be conducted this year, and was endorsed by the central bank.”

As to whether the company is in discussion with other banks in Malaysia to buy NPLs, he said Collectius is always in touch with banks and discussions are ongoing but closing a debt sales deal may take eight months to a year.

Compared to last year, he said there are fewer banks in discussion to sell their NPLs as they are not in a rush and are monitoring the global economic situation closely.

However, he said the company foresees the closure of a deal by the fourth quarter of this year or in the first quarter of 2023.

Global banks, he said, are also undertaking mergers and acquisitions (M&As) which may lead to the disposal of NPL accounts that are long overdue.

Local telecommunication giants too have started M&As and this show how large companies are consolidating their presence to increase competitiveness, he noted.

While NPLs at telcos may not be as high as banks in terms of ticket size, he said there is a possibility of them also disposing of bad debt accounts to clear their books.

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