x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Get a mortgage, bank throws in a cat

Customers can choose from 10 breeds, including tabbies, Siamese, and an exotic hairless cat if they take out a mortgage with Russia's largest bank.

According to Russian superstition, letting a cat walk through your new home before you move in brings good luck. Fatima Al Marzouqi / The National ¬
According to Russian superstition, letting a cat walk through your new home before you move in brings good luck. Fatima Al Marzouqi / The National ¬

Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, is offering to lend cats for a few hours to customers who take out home mortgages. Yes, cats.

According to Russian superstition, letting a cat walk through your new home before you move in brings good luck. “Order a cat for your housewarming, and bring happiness and luck to your home,” the state-controlled bank says on a special cat delivery service website it set up to promote the campaign. Customers can choose from 10 breeds, including tabbies, Siamese, and an exotic hairless cat.

A video on the site shows new homeowners beaming with delight as Sberbank deliverymen release cats into their apartments. The cats mostly look bewildered.

The cats are owned by individuals, including Sberbank employees, “who agreed to let their pets participate in special projects”, said Anastasia Vakhlamova, a bank spokeswoman.

The bank started receiving requests for loaned cats “immediately after the launch of the special project” in mid-August, she says.

Sberbank may not need cats to attract borrowers. As the rouble plummets, Russians are scrambling to put savings into real estate. The government’s Agency for Housing Mortgage Lending predicts that new home loans this year could reach a record $50bn.

Sberbank reported last week that its second-quarter profit rose 13 per cent, as consumer lending rose 11 per cent, to $87 billion.

But borrowing is getting more expensive. Russia’s central bank has raised interest rates, and last month Sberbank increased the rate on most mortgages to a minimum of 12.5 per cent.

business@thenational.ae

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