March 19, 2020 / 12:17 PM / 2 months ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Dutch banks agree to 6-month freeze on loan payments for small business

(Corrects to make clear freeze is on payments, not interest)

AMSTERDAM, March 19 (Reuters) - Major Dutch banks including ING Groep and ABN Amro have agreed to give small businesses a six-month delay in payments on loans, the country’s banking industry association said on Thursday.

The Dutch Union of Banks said the measures would apply to any loan of up to 2.5 million euros. “For the group with larger obligations, banks will follow further developments closely,” the union said in a statement.

“We want to offer fast support,” said ABN Amro CEO Kees van Dijkhuizen in a statement.

The bank, which is still majority-owned by the Dutch state after the 2008 financial crisis, said the payments freeze applied to 55,000 of its commercial customers.

“Interest and principal payments due in April through September will not be collected from these clients; they can make these payments later,” it said.

The bank said retail customers with mortgages could also request three months of payment deferral, and it is drawing up a similar measure for personal loans.

The Dutch government has been rolling out aid packages for the country to cope with economic distress caused by the coronavirus outbreak, including a $22 billion emergency aid package for businesses, as well as unemployment compensation for people laid off or furloughed. (Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Alex Richardson and Elaine Hardcastle)

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