SAFE Working Paper No. 390

Firm-Bank Relationships: A Cross-Country Comparison

We document the structure of firm-bank relationships across the eleven largest euro area countries and present new stylised facts using novel data from the recent credit registry of the Eurosystem - AnaCredit. We look at the number of banking relation-ships, reliance on the main bank, credit instruments, loan maturity and interest rates. The granularity of the data allows us to account for cross country differences in firm characteristics. Firms in Southern European countries borrow from a larger number of banks and obtain a lower share of credit from the main bank compared to those in North-ern European countries. They also tend to borrow more on short term, more expensive instruments and to obtain loans with shorter maturity. This is consistent with the hy-pothesis that Southern European countries rely less on relationship banking and obtain credit less conducive to firm growth, in line with the smaller average size of Southern European firms. Instead, no clear pattern emerges in terms of interest rates, consistent with the idea that banks appropriate part of the surplus generated by relationship lending through higher rates.