LONDON (Reuters) - British bank NatWest has begun offering payment holidays and temporary emergency loans to businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
NatWest, part of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), also said it was setting aside 5 billion pounds of additional support for affected companies.
Global markets were roiled on Monday by growing concerns about the economic fallout from the coronavirus, with British stocks suffering their biggest intraday fall since the 2008 financial crisis.
Britain has so far reported three deaths and 278 cases of the coronavirus.
State-backed NatWest has added the extra cash to an existing 6 billion pound fund set up to help prepare firms for any negative fallout from Brexit and also to support high-growth small businesses.
While the pot has been topped up multiple times for different reasons, this week marks the first time that NatWest is offering repayment holidays and temporary emergency loans with no fees.
NatWest also said it would get in touch with small firms experiencing short-term trading issues due to coronavirus to offer them additional support.
Alison Rose, Natwest CEO, said: “This is a priority for NatWest and we will remain proactive, continuing to listen to our customers – we are here to support and can help businesses manage any short term disruption.”
Reporting by Iain Withers. Editing by Jane Merriman