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Banking

Czech Republic: Digital investment pays dividends for CSOB as coronavirus crisis deepens

Dealing room challenges, loan forbearance and short board meetings: CEO John Hollows describes the impact of Covid-19 on the Czech Republic’s largest bank.

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John Hollows, CEO of CSOB


As the Czech Republic enters its third week in lockdown due to the coronavirus, the country’s largest bank is gearing up for a wave of credit impairments in key sectors such as manufacturing and tourism.

CSOB has already taken action to help customers through the Covid-19 crisis. The lender, which is part of the KBC group, announced payment holidays for borrowers as soon as a state of emergency was declared by the Czech government on March 12.

So far, take-up has been relatively slow, according to chief executive John Hollows.

“We do already have customers ringing up and asking for financial help, but not perhaps as many as some might expect,” he says. “We anticipate this number will increase, however, and we are preparing our staff to help those clients with the correct procedures and documentation.”

Koruna

In the short term, the impact of the crisis on CSOB’s business has been most sharply felt in the dealing room after global risk-off sentiment and a 75-basis-point benchmark interest-rate cut sparked a sharp sell-off in the Czech koruna.


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