BoT tones down Cyprus crunch

Local depositors at FBME Bank have been assured that their monies are safe because the banking crisis in Cyprus does not affect the country's biggest bank by asset value as Cypriot authorities impose capital controls.

Bank of Tanzania (BoT) Governor, Prof Benno Ndulu, said yesterday that the Central Bank is following closely developments in Cyprus where FBME Bank has the bulk of its assets, despite the fact that the headquarters are in Dar es Salaam.

"Tanzania's activities of FBME are safe. I will give further details during the week," said the Central Bank chief. Prof Ndulu said despite the fact that FBME Bank is part of the Cypriot banking system which is currently in crisis as the country's economy is threatened by bankruptcy, there is no threat to the local assets.

The bank, which is one of the 10 biggest commercial banks in the country controlling more than 80 per cent assets, over 70 per cent of deposits and 60 per cent of banking staff, has a big clients' presence in the country.

"FBME does not have exposure to the bad debts which Cypriot banks gave to Greek borrowers that have caused the crisis," Prof Ndulu said. In a statement posted on its website dated March 25, this year, FBME Bank said following the crisis, restrictive measures on transactions have been imposed through Emergency Law of 2013 passed by the Cyprus parliament on the night of Friday March 22, 2013.

The move confers discretionary powers on the Cyprus Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus to impose capital controls. 

"At present, it is not yet clear to what extent capital control measures will impact on FBME Bank customers, bearing in mind the fact that FBME Bank is sound and depositors' funds are protected by the strength of the Bank's well diversified and highly liquid Balance Sheet, which meets European Capital Adequacy and Liquidity Standards," the statement noted.

It said throughout the past week FBME Bank has been actively working to protect its customers' best interests and has regularly communicated with parliament and government of Cyprus, the Central Bank of Cyprus and other relevant parties.

"We are very pleased to inform our customers that under this agreement, there will be no levy imposed on deposits held with FBME Bank Limited," the statement added. "We commit to all our customers that we will continue actively working on your behalf to ensure normal business resumes at the earliest possible opportunity and we thank you for your continuing support and patience during this difficult time," the statement concluded.

In a 2012 Tanzania Banking Survey, Dar es Salaam based Serengeti Advisors ranked FBME along side CRDB and NMB Banks as the largest banks in the country, owning 48 per cent of all assets in the country's banking industry.

"The three largest banks by assets also had more than half of the industry's deposits and government securities in 2011," said the 123-page report. 

The report further said that FBME led the pack with 20.62 per cent of total assets last year, while CRDB and National Microfinance Bank came second and third with 15.13 per cent and 11.98 per cent respectively.
Source: The Daily News, www.dailynews.co.tz, reported by Finningan wa Simbeye in Dar es Salaam
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