UK commercial property lending rises as banks cut bad debt

Loans for commercial properties up 17 per cent as banks clear up soured portfolios

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 5:08am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 5:12am

Lending for commercial property in Britain climbed 17 per cent last year as banks resolved troubled debt and the economy improved, a survey by De Montfort University showed.

New loans increased to £29.9 billion (HK$390 billion) from £25.5 billion a year earlier, according to the survey of 76 lenders published last Friday.

The proportion of those that intend to increase commercial lending rose to 60 per cent from 46 per cent.

Banks and other lenders have been refinancing and selling off bad-loan portfolios that weighed down their balance sheets in the wake of the 2007 property crash. As banks reined in new lending, institutions such as insurance companies and private equity funds entered the market to pick up the slack.

"Recovery post-crash has been slow but steady, and it is promising to see that the market is now moving in the right direction," said Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation.

The value of outstanding debt held against British commercial property fell by 9.1 per cent to £179.8 billion, the study showed. The total was more than £270 billion in 2008. The average loan-to-value ratio for new debt climbed to 65.9 per cent, from 64.2 per cent a year earlier, as borrowers sought larger loans and more non-bank lenders entered the market.

Institutions other than banks accounted for 23 per cent of the lending, up from 15 per cent in 2012. The 12 largest lenders held about 72 per cent of outstanding debt last year, down from 83 per cent in 2009, according to the statement.

The value of loans in default increased 12 per cent to £24.5 billion even as the number of loans in default fell, the study found.