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(Bloomberg) -- Municipalities in the German state of North- Rhine Westphalia may face additional costs of as much as 900 million euros ($1.04 billion) as a result of the surge in the Swiss franc against the euro, according to a report in WirtschaftsWoche.
The city of Essen has loans of about 367 million euros in francs, while nearby Bochum has 180 million euros and the town of Muenster 118 million euros, the magazine reported, citing calculations derived from data provided by the state and the cities. Towns and municipalities in North-Rhine Westphalia had a combined 1.89 billion euros in foreign-currency liabilities at the end of 2013, according to a document on the state’s website that didn’t specify the currency in which the loans were obtained. Authorities didn’t immediately respond to calls and e- mails seeking confirmation of the report.
The euro suffered its biggest decline against the franc since the common currency’s inception in 1999 following the Swiss National Bank’s surprise decision on Jan. 15 to abandon the currency’s cap versus the euro. Repayment at current exchange rates would increase the cost of the loans for the German towns by as much as much as 50 percent, WirtschaftsWoche said. The municipalities of Dorsten and Gladbeck have loans of 85 million euros and 70 million euros in francs, respectively, according to the report.
The SNB’s decision to end its three-year policy of capping the franc at 1.20 a euro triggered losses at Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG and Barclays Plc as well as hedge funds and mutual funds. The franc surged as much as 41 percent versus the euro, the biggest gain on record, and climbed more than 15 percent against all of the more than 150 currencies tracked by Bloomberg.
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