April 27, 2020 / 11:27 PM / a month ago

Brazilian banks postpone $4 billion in debts for consumers, companies

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian banks have so far postponed 22.2 billion reais ($3.91 billion) in debt installments due in the coming months, in a move to help consumers and companies amid the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s bank industry group said on Monday.

Febraban, as the association is known, said in a statement the amount refers to 3.8 million contracts, which amount to 230.6 billion reais.

In March, Brazil’s top-five lenders - Itau Unibanco Holding SA (ITUB4.SA), Banco do Brasil SA (BBAS3.SA), Banco Bradesco SA (BBDC4.SA), Banco Santander Brasil SA (SANB3.SA) and Caixa Economica Federal - said they would offer clients a grace period of between two and six months to pay debt installments amid the economic crisis stemming from the pandemic.

Nearly 14 billion reais in postponements refer to consumer lending, Febraban said.

In terms of new loan disbursements, large companies have taken out 101.5 billion reais while consumers took 36 billion reais, Febraban said.

The banks’ association also said it has renewed 66.5 billion reais in loan contracts so far.

Brazil’s top five lenders have extended both consumers and companies 266 billion reais in new and reprofiled loans between March 16 and April 17, Febraban said. As a basis for comparison, the association said the amount is up 22% from March 2019.

“These figures show that money is not parked in banks,” said Isaac Sidney Menezes Ferreira, head of Febraban, refuting critics that lenders are not giving loans amid the crisis.

Reporting by Carolina Mandl; editing by Jonathan Oatis & Shri Navaratnam

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