Santander's Polish arm weighing Swiss franc loan settlements

WARSAW, April 28 (Reuters) – Santander’s Polish business is considering settlement deals with customers over Swiss franc teacher mortgages, a long-standing headache for Polish banks, its Chief Executive Michal Gajewski said on Wednesday.

Polish banks face lawsuits from Swiss franc mortgage holders who have seen costs rise after a surge in the value of the currency.

The chance of resolving cases through out-of-court settlements remains uncertain, with many banks waiting for a Polish Supreme Court sitting on May 11 before they decide whether to sign up to a settlement plan proposed by financial regulator KNF.

“We are very seriously considering this,” Gajewski told a news conference referring to the KNF settlement proposal, adding the bank was finishing consultations with its clients and had not taken a final decision.

“It looks that most of our clients are inclined to agree on the settlements, so I am not a total pessimist. This of course does not mean that it will not hurt,” Gajewski added.

The CEO also said a ruling by the European Union’s Court of Justice on the issue expected on April 29 may not be unambiguous.

“We will see what the court says tomorrow. There is still a big uncertainty over the direction,” Gajewski said.

Thousands of Polish borrowers took out franc loans more than a decade ago to take advantage of low Swiss interest rates but then faced ballooning repayments when the zloty weakened sharply against the Swiss currency.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Anna Koper. Editing by Mark Potter)

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