Bank-Led Restructuring in Poland: An Empirical Look at the Bank Conciliation Process
48 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: September 1996
Poland's Enterprise and Bank Restructuring Program, adopted in 1993, halted the deterioriation of the country's commercial banks, but its bank-led workout process has done little to further the operational restructuring or privatization of enterprises. Continued work is needed to build strong banks that can impose effective corporate governance.
Since 1992, Poland has been considered a model of commercial banking reform among transition economies. Its Enterprise and Bank Restructuring Program (EBRP), adopted by Parliament in 1993, tried to force state-owned commercial banks to build institutional capacity and to take concrete steps to resolve their problem loans - through workouts (conciliation), liquidation, loan sales, or payback of the problem loans. To find out if the workouts have lived up to their promise, Gray and Holle reviewed the process and initial outcomes of the bank-led conciliation process in a sample of 62 enterprises - part of a larger sample of 139 firms subject to the EBRP. A companion paper looks at experience with the other resolution paths (bankruptcy, state enterprise liquidation, court conciliation, payback, and sale of debt) under the EBRP.
The outcome of Poland's first experiment with bank-led restructuring is decidedly mixed. The EBRP forced banks to confront their problems, helped them build institutional capacity, and furthered the difficult task of weeding out and closing clearly unviable firms. These are important achievements in this early period of transition, and the Polish approach can serve in many ways as a model for other transition economies.
Despite these strengths, the data suggest that the bank-led conciliation process has had limited power to promote needed restructuring or privatization in firms. The agreements themselves were relatively unsophisticated and included few tangible requirements for operational or management change. The first two years of implementation saw a slowdown (over earlier years) in the rate of layoffs, a decline in average operating profitability, and very little real privatization. The main impact of conciliation appears to have been to reduce debt service and thereby give firms breathing room. Weaker banks in particular tended to be more lenient, swapped more debt for equity, and had greater difficulty forecasting future enterprise performance.
The EBRP was a good start, but continued work is needed to build strong banks that can impose effective corporate governance on enterprises that need to restructure.
This paper - a product of the Finance and Private Sector Development Division, Policy Research Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to understand the process of transition in former socialist economies.
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