A priority of OTP Banka is to increase its market share in Serbia. Last year the OTP Group made a decision to focus on organic growth, that is, to boost healthy investments. Besides, one of the options for further progress of this bank is the procurement of one of the banks in the Serbian market, Ivan Radojcic, deputy chairman of the Executive Board and director of the Business Division at OTP Banka Novi Sad, said in an interview with eKapija.
However, as he noted, the bank still cannot share with the public its position on whether the acquisition will definitely take place.
- We are very cautious regarding this issue, and we are now conducting detailed analyses in order to make the best choice for both OTP Banka and our clients. I can only stress that the quality of the portfolio of the bank we consider acquiring and its possible contribution to the improvement of the structure of our portfolio will be crucial for our decision. That means that if we decide to buy a bank in the Serbian market, it can only be a "healthy" bank.
eKapija: Can you give us a more precise information about which bank you may consider acquiring, or at least tell us if it is going to be a state-owned bank or a bank from the private sector?
- We have signed a non-disclosure agreement with all banks we've been negotiating with, so that I cannot currently share any additional information with you. I can only say that all options are open.
eKapija: How did OTP Banka operate in H1 2012, are you satisfied with the results?
- We had ambitious plans for this year, which were based on an excellent liquidity of our bank, while a capital increase in late 2011 facilitated a further growth and the development of our operations in Serbia. We've created products that are maximally adapted to fit the needs of our clients in terms of quality, price and the speed of approval. Our clients have recognized that, and we are satisfied with the results.
We've completed a strategic repositioning of the bank and strengthened the liquidity of its capital, which was increased by RSD 3,686 million in 2011 and by RSD 2,220 million in 2012.
When it comes to retailing operations, the focus of our bank is placed on refinancing loans, which have attracted a large number of clients. The number of service packages we sell to certain segments of clients is constantly growing. The aim is to attract 1,000 new clients every month in this way.
The bank's strategic orientation is to invest in agribusinesses and boost the number of clients in this segment, and one of our target groups are public companies, as well as medium-sized companies.
eKapija: What did cause the loss that OTP Banka in Serbia reported in the second quarter (RSD 200 million, according to the data provided by the NBS)? In which way do you plan to improve your results?
- Last year we identified all bad investments covered from our reserves, which resulted in a loss. We are continously engaged in the rescheduling of debts in cooperation with our clients. I must say that such proactive approach has increased the number of collected receievables on the level of the bank.
In order to free our reserves and improve the results, we are focused on collecting the rest of outstanding receivables, and we have also put accent on the boost of the bank's healthy portfolio through lending to businesses and citizens. We have ambitious plans for our lending activities. I can say that I am sure that we will achieve the planned growth rate.
eKapija: What are the plans of OTP Banka in Serbia for the period until the year's end?
- OTP Banka wants to expand its operations in Serbia. The bank has 48 offices and the share of 1.04 percent on the basis of collected deposits, while its share in the loan market amounts to 1.61 percent.
When it comes to physical persons, OTP Banka plans to continue to create the offer of products that are maximally adapted to fit the needs of our clients.
Analyses have showed that the agrarian sector is a favorable field for the growth of the bank's market share, which is why we are mainly focused on funding the agrarian business. Thanks to the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, we started a cooperation with regional chambers at the beginning of this summer. Based on what we learn from the talks with them, we will be able to form products that can satisfy their needs.
OTP Banka in Serbia is a part of a very successful group that has a long tradition and is one of the leaders in CEE. The banks like OTP are expected to encourage regional cooperation. OTP operates in Slovakia, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Croatia and Montenegro in addition to Serbia and its home country Hungary.
eKapija: Is OTP going to increase its investments in Serbia by the year's end?
- OTP Banka is constantly increasing the number and volume of its investments. The plan we announced early this year, which seemed to be quite ambitious at the time, will be fulfilled. We want to invest EUR 100 million by the year's end. Our ambitious plans are based on an excellent liquidity of the bank and, although big plans may seem unrealistic from the viewpoint of the current economic situation, we believe that we can even exceed the plan. I can say with a great pleasure that a large portion of these plans has already been fulfilled.
eKapija: Is it realistic to expect a drop in interest rates in Serbia by the year's end? What are your expectations in that regard?
- An unstable exchange rate, somewhat more restrictive monetary policy and a low liquidity in the market do not make up a good basis for a drop in interest rates in the following period.
When it comes to OTP Banka, we plan very intense lending activities. In this sense, we will take care of the interest rate policy and strive to primarily be realistic because we want to build a relationship based on a mutual trust with our current and future client.