Facebook Blogging

Edward Hugh has a lively and enjoyable Facebook community where he publishes frequent breaking news economics links and short updates. If you would like to receive these updates on a regular basis and join the debate please invite Edward as a friend by clicking the Facebook link at the top of the right sidebar.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Latvian Government Nationalises Parex Bank

Latvia's government announced today that it has decided to take over the nation's second most important financial institution after the bank ran into liquidity difficulties. The Latvian government apparently decided late yesterday (Saturday) to take a 51 percent stake in Parex Bank, Latvia's second largest bank by total assets, following the preparation of data that indicated the bank was headed toward insolvency.

Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis stated that Parex was functional but in need of liquidity. He also said the government had faced a choice of either taking control of the bank or allowing it to enter bankruptcy. The government also suggested that there were no plans to rescue any of Latvia's other 25 banks at the moment, but that the possibility could not be excluded in the future.

The government bought the majority stake in Parex for 2 lats ($3.70). Another 34 percent stake in the bank will be held as collateral by the state-owned Hipoteku Bank. Obviously the fact that they have had to nationalize Parex bank was yet was another blow to Latvia's deteriorating economy, and to the governments present strategy for addressing the crisis. On Friday we learnt that gross domestic had fallen by an annual 4.2 percent in the third quarter.

Parex Bank was almost unique in both the Latvia and Baltic context in that it was homegrown. Founders Valery Kargin and Viktor Krasovitsky established the bank in 1992, one year after Latvia split from the Soviet Union and achieved independence.

A majority of the banking industry in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are owned by Scandinavian financial institutions, and hence, up to now, have been somewhat shielded from the downturn.

This is obviously the first, and not the last, piece of news of this kind we are going to get during the present economic slump, and the nationalisation decision is sure to heat up the debate about whether or not to seek IMF protection, and indeed whether (or when) to break the Lat-Euro peg.

No comments: