JOHANNESBURG, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Mozambique’s banking system is “in good health”, a senior central bank official said on Monday, after a liquidity crunch and bailout of the southern African nation’s fourth-biggest lender, Moza Banco.
“There is no reason for alarm,” the AIM state news agency quoted Joana Matsombe, head of banking supervision at the central bank, as telling a news conference.
Moza Banco got into difficulties this year after a rapid expansion of its branch network and an incomplete recapitalisation from shareholders that caused its solvency ratio to fall below the required 8 percent minimum, Matsombe said.
On average, Mozambique’s banks had a solvency ratio of 15 percent, she was quoted as saying.
Moza Banco’s non-performing loans were 8 percent of total lending, higher than the 5.3 percent average in the banking system, although Matsombe said this was not a significant factor in its problems.
Mozambique’s economy and currency have been hit hard this year by a financial crisis stemming from more than $2 billion in foreign borrowing since 2013 that was not included in the budget or approved by parliament.
The International Monetary Fund and foreign donors have cut off support, saying they were kept in the dark about the debt, much of which was spent on building a state tuna-fishing company and enhancing maritime security.
The central bank has guaranteed all deposits held at Moza Banco, fired its board and taken over its day-to-day operations. Matsombe said the regulator was looking to clean up the bank and sell it within six months.
“We do not intend to stay there,” she said. “Our task, as the regulator, is not to manage banks.” (Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Susan Fenton)