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WRAPUP 2-Britain's mid-sized banks coping with coronavirus, but warn of pain ahead

Wed 6th May, 2020 12:31pm
* Virgin Money half-year results dented by coronavirus
provision
    * Metro Bank deposits rise but no guidance on pandemic
impact
    * OneSavings Bank reports steady lending, margins
    * Virgin Money shares up 11%, OneSavings up 7%

 (Adds details, further quotes, updates shares)
    By Iain Withers and Sinead Cruise
    LONDON, May 6 (Reuters) - A slew of Britain's mid-sized
banks on Wednesday reported steady deposits and demand in the
face of the COVID-19 pandemic, but warned it was too early to
assess the long-term damage of the outbreak to their businesses.
    The lockdown in late March to contain the spread of the new
coronavirus has brought the economy to a near halt, prompting
bigger banks last week to set aside provisions for loan losses
in case businesses and consumers struggle to pay them back.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2CJ0YO 
    Virgin Money  VMUK.L  made a first-half pretax loss after
booking a 232 million pound ($289 million) provision for bad
loans and likely defaults due to the pandemic, but reported a
higher than expected capital buffer of 13% that steadied
investor nerves.
    The bank, which became the UK's sixth-largest lender
following its takeover by CYBG, reported a pre-tax loss of 7
million pounds for the six months ended March 31, compared to a
9 million pound profit a year earlier. 
    The firm made a 22 million pound after-tax profit thanks to
a 29 million pound tax credit.
    Smaller rival OneSavings Bank  OSBO.L  said its net loans
and retail deposits held firm in the first quarter, as did its
2.66% net interest margin - a key measure of underlying
profitability - despite the tough market conditions.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2CO2D2
    "It is too soon to say what the longer term impact will be
on our business, but we entered this period with a strong and
secured balance sheet, sensible LTVs and strong risk management
capabilities, equipping us well to navigate the current
situation," OneSavings Bank Chief Executive Andy Golding said.
    Shares in Virgin Money were up 11% at 1128 GMT, while
OneSavings gained 7%.
    Metro Bank  MTRO.L  failed to reassure its investors with
its thin quarterly trading update, reporting a modest dip in
lending alongside a 77 million pound rise in total deposits. Its
shares fell 3%.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nFWN2CN126
    Metro entered the crisis in bad shape after an accounting
blunder last year decimated its stock market value, forced out
its top bosses, and triggered an ongoing regulatory
investigation.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL5N2AQ1TG
    The bank said it remained "difficult to predict with any
certainty" how the outbreak would impact its customers and would
provide an update when it reported half-year results, but said
key capital ratios remained in excess of regulatory minimums.
    "Metro's limited Q1 trading update may be a hostage to
fortune in terms of what it does not disclose as opposed to what
it does," Jefferies analyst Joe Dickerson said in a note.
    Unlisted Co-op Bank reported a further quarterly pretax loss
- of 27 million pounds - but said this was in line with company
expectations. Impairments nearly tripled to 2.9 million pounds,
although Goodbody analyst John Cronin said they remained
relatively benign.
    The flurry of updates comes after Britain's biggest banks
RBS  RBS.L , Lloyds  LLOY.L , HSBC  HSBA.L  and Barclays
 BARC.L  set aside 6.7 billion pounds in provisions for likely
loan losses last week.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N2CG43X  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N2CG1BW  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL5N2CH1QO
    Virgin Money said it would delay the rebranding of
Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank for a year due to the impact of
the crisis, although Chief Executive David Duffy told reporters
the bank was committed to doing this over time.
    Duffy said the bank's credit card business had not been
impacted so far by the crisis, but the bank had provisioned for
impairments to rise this year.
    "It's a very high quality credit card book with very
affluent customers," he said.
    Commenting on bad loan provisioning, he said: "I don't have
a crystal ball but we have tried to be very conservative."
    Citing a lower capital buffer relative to peers, analysts
had been concerned Virgin Money might need to raise additional
capital, but a common equity tier 1 ratio of 13% was welcomed by
analysts at Citi as "a big positive".
    Virgin Money Chief Financial Officer Ian Smith said the bank
still had "a very substantial buffer" to the regulatory
requirement of 10%.
    
($1 = 0.8040 pounds)

 (Additional reporting by Muvija M; Editing by Jan Harvey and
Elaine Hardcastle)
 ((Iain.Withers@thomsonreuters.com; +44(0)207 542 3330;))

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