StanChart steps up support for SMEs hit by pandemic slowdown

Businesses can defer payment of the principal on secured loans and pay lower interest as Standard Chartered Bank steps up help for clients during the coronavirus pandemic.

The bank yesterday said the support measures are in line with the initiatives announced by the Government. They aim to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) mitigate the effects of the economic slowdown while enabling them to emerge from the crisis stronger and more resilient.

Part of these initiatives allow clients to request deferment of loan principal and pay only interest up to Dec 31 for secured loans.

They can also request to extend loan tenure by up to the corresponding principal deferment period.

Additionally, SMEs will get lower interest rates, including on enhanced working capital loans and temporary bridging loans.

The new enhanced working capital loan quantum is also extended to $1 million, more than double the quantum offered previously.

The bank will also allow clients to request to waive late fees and related charges, such as restructuring costs, for up to six months.

Trade bill tenures can also be extended for clients with trade facilities that are experiencing delayed payments. They can ask for a bill maturity extension for up to 90 days.

Businesses with commercial mortgages can get an additional loan or overdraft against their property to improve cash flow.

StanChart head of business banking for Singapore Zech Tan said: "We are committed to working with our clients and helping them get through this tough period."

Mr Tan also noted that since the bank first announced relief measures in February, the business banking unit has received hundreds of applications from SME clients for principal moratoriums across unsecured and secured loans to improve their cash flow.

"The newly announced measures... will also enable us to provide even more support to our SME clients in need. Together, we can overcome this global pandemic and bounce back stronger," he added.