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Savers, small businesses, municipalities, large companies, cities and regions as well as financial institutions, of which there are approximately 15,300 and are waiting for the payment of sunk money in the Russian bank Sberbank, can look forward to the payment of the overwhelming majority of claims already this year.
“At the moment, we have reviewed receivables worth 60.06 billion crowns. At the moment, we plan to pay all reviewed creditors at the same time this year (including local governments), namely roughly 95 percent of their claims,” Sberbank liquidator Jiřina Lužová told SZ Byznys.
He plans to start the payment within a few days after the decision of the bankruptcy court, which will allow a partial schedule, becomes final.
“However, not everything is only in our hands. The deadline for filing a lawsuit is now running for those creditors whose claim was denied by the insolvency court. We therefore expect to submit a request for a partial schedule to the court in the second half of November after this deadline has expired,” explains the insolvency administrator.
Lenders are divided into several groups – the first is the Guarantee System of the Financial Market, which ensured the payment of insured deposits up to 100 thousand euros, the second group includes natural persons and small and medium-sized enterprises, and the third group includes, for example, large companies, municipalities, cities or region.
According to Lužová, the first two groups will receive all their money, the third group will most likely be satisfied with more than 95 percent.
At this time, Lužová intends to pay all creditors 95 percent of their claims, regardless of which creditor group they belong to, and pay them the rest later.
Creditors should receive the money through an intermediary, which will probably be one of the large Czech banks. “Creditors, with some exceptions, will have to contact this intermediary, prove their identity and request payment of their funds,” Lužová explains the procedure for disbursing money.
Creditors who have initiated incidental disputes and the total amount of their claim is not known, will not be included and paid in the partial schedule (this year).
If even the third creditor group, i.e. large companies, municipalities, cities or regions, get more than 95 percent of their claims back, it will be a success, because it was originally assumed that they would achieve a maximum of 90 percent.
According to the liquidator of Sberbank, this success is due to the fact that Sberbank was a healthy and stable bank before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – it had quality assets, a healthy loan portfolio, and its assets were monetized quickly and at a good price. Česká spořitelna paid approximately 41 billion crowns for loans with a nominal value of 47.1 billion crowns in April.
“If everything goes according to my assumptions, it will be the most efficient, fastest and probably the most successful major insolvency ever. In terms of size, it is by far the largest insolvency. To give an idea: the volume of funds paid out to depositors through GSFT was greater than all other payments made so far,” Lužová added.
Municipalities will start investments
Municipalities and regions are already waiting for the payment of money and are planning investments for next year. For example, the city of Uničov had approximately 106 million deposited in its accounts at the time of the bank’s collapse, and with recognized interest, it should receive 110 million if 100% fulfillment. “We will use them for investments that have been delayed, such as the reconstruction of the city club or perhaps the reconstruction of the town hall,” says mayor Radek Vincour (ODS).
When asked whether the city learned from the fall of Sberbank and will diversify its portfolio better in the future, he says that it is easy to say today, but that the fall of a healthy bank could not have been predicted.
“Today, everyone is smart about what someone should have done, but the bank failed not because it had problems, but because it was Russian. Moreover, it was not our primary choice. We had deposits with Volksbank, and when Sberbank bought it, we switched to it automatically,” explains Vincour.
He is glad that the city didn’t listen to the offers to quickly buy the receivables at half price immediately after the bank’s collapse. “As good landlords, we could not allow this to happen. I’m glad that we resisted the pressure for a quick, cheap sale, because now we could count on only half the budget,” adds the mayor of Uničova.
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As part of the liquidation, the Moravian-Silesian Region will demand, including interest, the sum of 370 million crowns, which it will transfer to the Fund for the Financing of Strategic Projects, which will be used for partial pre-financing of subsidies for European projects from 2024.
Although the region regrets the fact that it could not value the money on time deposits with an interest rate of approximately 6.8%, as it does with other free funds, it appreciates that in the end the insolvency administrator managed to find a counterparty willing to pay such a purchase price, thanks to which lenders in the 3rd group will also receive up to 100% of their deposits. The county has the only reservations about how the payment of money is distributed among the creditors.
“The Insolvency Act stipulates the order of payments, when territorial self-governing units build up to the 3rd group of creditors, whose satisfaction occurs only after group 1 (guarantee system of the financial market) and group 2 (natural persons, small businesses…) have been satisfied. We do not consider this legal provision to be optimal,” says the spokesperson of the Moravian-Silesian Region, Nikola Birklenová.
The West Bohemian city of Aš has 167 million crowns blocked, it wants to use the money for the reconstruction of an indoor swimming pool. “It is an event worth around 130 million crowns, so its implementation next year is actually conditional on the return of the money deposited with Sberbank,” explains Milan Vrbata, the spokesperson of the city office.
According to him, they are also sorry for not being able to value the money that the city has blocked for a year and a half in the meantime. Even Vrbata does not believe that the city should have used the money elsewhere and in a different way. “We were appreciating the deposits in the Sberbank account for about seven years before something happened that we could not predict or influence. We evaluated the funds at other financial institutions as well, but Sberbank was the most advantageous for us,” says spokesperson Aše.
However, according to him, the administrator could have better communicated with the city about the liquidation process. “Given the total amount being withheld, we would feel that creditors should be kept informed of the stages of the proceedings. This has not happened so far. During the entire time, we received two data messages,” complains Vrbata.
The highlands “missed” over two billion
Vysočina should receive the most money as part of the liquidation, which has approximately 2.4 billion crowns blocked. “It was mainly about the region’s savings, which were counted on for investments and for the pre-financing of projects financed from European funds,” says the governor of Vysočina Vítězslav Schrek (ODS).
According to him, the region had to update the investment plan, save on operations and negotiate an overdraft with another bank. “Thanks to timely and effective budget interventions, no planned major investments were ultimately either stopped or cancelled. We provided non-refundable loans to non-repayable organizations of the region, which had problems with cash flow due to Sberbank,” the governor describes the situation.
When the region receives the money, it wants to invest it primarily in transport infrastructure and in regional hospitals and secondary schools.
However, the Sberbank liquidator draws attention to one exception for the payment of blocked money – who will not be affected this year. “These are, for example, creditors who have initiated incidental disputes. And since these creditors do not know the total amount of their claim, they will not be included and paid in a partial schedule,” explains Lužová.
An example of blocked money in Sberbank
Chotebor: 105 million
Zdar nad Sazavou: 56 million
Rychnov nad Kněžnou: 21 million
Sternberg: 125 million
Dawns: tens of millions
Novy Jicin: 100.8 million
New Town in Moravia: 6.5 million
Havlíčkův Brod: 32.3 million
Home for the elderly in Havlíčkův Brod: 8 million
Moravian-Silesian Region: 350 million
Pardubice region: 52.8 million
Highlands: 2.4 billion crowns
South-Moravian region: 160 million
Prague: 160 million crowns
Note ed.: Other municipalities and regions have blocked money from Sberbank, the list includes those that answered the question. Amounts may be increased by interest.