PETALING JAYA: Malaysian banks are offering financial relief to their customers affected by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The banks are offering to restructure and reschedule financing as well as providing a moratorium on loan repayments, among other measures.
Among the banks that issued statements announcing these measures yesterday were Maybank, RHB Bank and Hong Leong Bank.
Banks sometimes offer such relief to their customers during disasters such as floods.
The move by many major banks over the past few days to implement such measures indicates the severity of the current situation and the impact on businesses in affected sectors.
The Association of Banks Malaysia said in a statement that its member banks stood ready to assist, with coordinated measures, businesses affected by the 2019-nCoV outbreak.
“Concerted efforts by our member banks are underway to ensure that bank customers are able to weather through this trying time and ensure business continuity.
“We, therefore, advise businesses experiencing financial difficulties arising from the 2019-nCoV outbreak to consult their banks as soon as possible to discuss their options pertaining to loan commitments and/or repayments, ” it said.
Maybank is offering restructuring and rescheduling of financing as well as moratorium on loan repayments for up to six months.
It said the financial relief would be open to both its business and SME customers as well as individuals affected by the current situation, and will be assessed on a case-to-case basis.
“We do understand that this sudden turn of events arising from the virus outbreak have impacted some of our customers across various industries and also individually.
“Should the situation persist, the bank will consider the possibility of extending the moratorium and financial relief for a longer period, ” group president and CEO Datuk Abdul Farid Alias said.
Hong Leong Bank and Hong Leong Islamic Bank said they had initiated a customer financial relief plan to support impacted customers.
HLB Group managing director and CEO Domenic Fuda said the bank would assist affected customers by considering the provision of temporary relief of up to six months of their monthly loan and financing payments.
In addition, he said the bank would consider requests to restructure or reschedule loans and financing to help with cashflow.
RHB Bank and RHB Islamic Bank are also offering affected customers a six-month moratorium and said affected customers could request to restructure or reschedule their loans and financing arrangements.
Agrobank, meanwhile, announced measures to help SMEs in the agriculture sector overcome the impact on their finances.
Meanwhile, an analyst noted that banks’ loan growth may be impacted as they are also likely to be more prudent in giving out loans, given the current risks.
The analyst with a local research house said banks would likely be more careful with lending, especially to industries that are affected by the virus outbreak such as the tourism, hospitality, retail and food and beverage sectors.
“Yes, banks will be more careful with lending, especially to the affected sectors and industries, and this will affect loan growth, ” he said.