Jun 5, 2012 6:01 AM GMT+0800 Spain should seek European money to rescue its failed lenders, saidBanco Santander SA Chairman Emilio Botin, joining a growing numberof bankers who question whether the government can manage the taskon its own. Botin, the 77-year-old head of Spain s biggest bank, said 40billion euros ($50 billion) in European Union funds fornationalized banks, including the Bankia group, would be enough toresolve the industry s crisis. Banco Sabadell (SAB) SA ChairmanJosep Oliu has said EU funds for weaker lenders could be asolution, while Bankinter SA (BKT) Chief Executive Officer MariaDolores Dancausa said Spain may have no choice. Using the mechanisms for assistance from Europe or the IMF is thebest option and more and more the banking industry is taking thatview, said Juan Carlos Ureta, chairman of Renta 4 Banco SA, aSpanish bank and investment services company. There is the riskof a possible stigma and that is why it s so important to stressthat it s only some institutions that are in difficulties whilethe industry as a whole is healthy. |
Spain moved to center stage in Europe s debt crisis after lastmonth s nationalization of the Bankia group. The Madrid- basedlender s request for 19 billion euros to mend its balance sheetunderlined banks mounting losses and the strains on the state sability to absorb them. Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at SaxoBank A/S, said it s unrealistic for Spain to accept aid for thebanks without also seeking a rescue to cover the financing needs ofthe government and its regions. Multi-dimensional Spain s problems are multi-dimensional, from having to deal withreal estate to fixing the budget deficit and all at the sametime, said Jakobsen. The idea that you can solve the situationwith 40 billion euros of European money for the banks makes nosense.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has repeatedly said Spain won t needa rescue for the nation or its banks, even as he argues theregion s permanent bailout fund should be able recapitalizelenders directly, sidestepping governments. EU Economy CommissionerOlli Rehn and French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici saidyesterday that letting the fund inject cash into banks instead ofchanneling the money through national governments would help stemthe debt crisis. The step would move the 17-nation euro area towarda banking union, they said. Chancellor Angela Merkel s spokesman said it s up to Spain todecide whether to seek aid and accept the conditions linked to it,giving no ground to Rajoy s pleas to Germany to explore newalternatives for resolving the debt crisis.
Cost of Bailout Spain s borrowing costs have surged since the Bankianationalization, even as yields on German bunds tumbled. The extrayield investors demand to hold Spanish 10-year bonds compared withGerman bunds was 518 basis points yesterday, compared with 430basis points before the Bankia rescue. A basis point is a hundredthof a percentage point. An EU and International Monetary Fund bailout package for Spainthat covered the government s gross funding needs through the endof 2014 and included 75 billion euros to recapitalize banks wouldamount to about 350 billion euros, David Mackie, the chiefeconomist at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
in London, wrote in a May 30report. More Spanish banks are in favor of seeking European funds forailing lenders because neither the banking system nor thegovernment can afford to absorb the losses, said Ureta. Spain s financial system may still need 45 billion euros intaxpayer money, including 30 billion euros to clean up threepreviously nationalized banks and 15 billion euros for otherlenders, Santiago Lopez, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, said in aMay 29 report. Stigma Attached As far as the healthy banks go, there aren t too many of us, said Sabadell s Oliu in comments provided by the lender.Bankinter s Dancausa told Spain s public broadcaster on June 1that European bailout funds shouldn t be stigmatized and that thesituation facing Spanish banks was critical.
Botin said nomore is needed beyond his 40 billion-euro estimate torecapitalize the nationalized banks. His comments in Brasilia werereported by Efe and confirmed by a spokesman yesterday. Spain runs the risk that investors will attach a stigma to thecountry s banks if it seeks funds to rescue ailing lenders such asBankia, said Andrew Bosomworth, a money manager at PacificInvestment Management Co. There are coherent concerns from the stronger banks and thegovernment about going down that route, said Bosomworth in aphone interview.
The experience shows that once you lose marketaccess it s very difficult to find your way back again. In 2010, banks helped push Portugal toward a bailout by urging thegovernment to ask for aid as downgrades by credit- rating companieshurt their ability to borrow. Portuguese lenders also said theycouldn t take any more Portuguese debt onto their balance sheets. Not About Honor Spain can t separate funding the clean-up of its weaker lendersfrom its wider funding needs, said Lorenzo Bernaldo de Quiros, aMadrid-based economist who advised the former People s Partygovernment of Jose Maria Aznar. JPMorgan s estimate that Spain mayneed a bailout costing as much as 350 billion euros didn t sound crazy, he said.
This isn t an issue of defending national honor but of beingpractical, said de Quiros. It s about making sure Spaindoesn t end up suspending payments.
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