February 28, 2020 / 12:37 PM / in a month

German bank NordLB cuts bad shipping loans by a third in fourth quarter

FRANKFURT, Feb 28 (Reuters) - NordLB, the German lender struggling under billions of euros of losses from non-performing shipping loans, has reduced the number of bad shipping loans by a third in the fourth quarter of 2019, its chief executive Thomas Buerkle said on Friday.

The bank cut bad shipping loans to 2.5 billion euros ($2.72 billion) in the quarter from 3.7 billion in the prior three-month period, Buerkle said.

At the end of 2016, it had amassed 9.4 billion euros worth of nonperforming shipping loans.

In December, it had to be rescued with 3.6 billion euros by its owners, which include the states of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt as well as savings banks.

The effects of shrinking activities, shedding staff and investing in IT will continue to weigh on its 2020 results, Buerkle said ahead of the release of 2019 earnings, due on March 24, which are set to produce a negative result.

Buerkle said that NordLB would focus on services such as credit asset management and winning mandates to arrange wind and solar projects, but steer a cautious course so as to spare its capital.

Renewable energy capacities were expanding globally, having succeeded in transitioning from subsidised output towards commercial profitability, which was attracting would-be investors, he said in a call with reporters.

“We assume a sideways or slight growth scenario in our (renewable) finance volume,” Buerkle said.

Its renewable energy project finance volume worldwide totals 11.1 billion euros, where Germany accounts for just under half. ($1 = 0.9201 euros) (Reporting by Vera Eckert and Klaus Lauer, editing by Louise Heavens)

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