EU Rescues Four Spanish Banks

Posted November 28th, 2012 at 12:10 pm (UTC-5)
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The European Union is sending a $48 billion rescue package to four debt-ridden Spanish banks, but only after ordering them to sharply cut their loans and investments, slash their workforces and impose heavy losses on their investors.

European Commission Vice President Joaquin Almunia said Wednesday the bailout aid would be sent to lenders Bankia, NCG Banco, Catalunya Banc and Banco de Valencia — to restore their financial stability after they suffered losses from making bad real estate loans. He said the conditions of the loans are in line with aid sent to other distressed financial institutions in Europe.

“The European Commission this morning approved the restructuring plan for four Spanish banks – BFA Bankia, Catalunya Banc, Nova Caixa Galicia and Banco de Valencia. These plans are in line with the Memorandum of Understanding signed in July of this year between Spain and the Eurogroup. And they are also in line, of course, with our norms on state aid, particularly the rules we applied since the start of the crisis to the financial institutions that received public support.”

The 17-nation eurozone agreed in June to send up to $130 billion to distressed Spanish banks. But in exchange for the first aid segment, Spain's neighbors imposed key restrictions on the four banks' operations, forcing them to cut their balance sheets by 60 percent and end lending for real estate development. Instead, the banks were told to focus on retail lending in their home territories.

Almunia said that in the coming weeks the commission will decide on rescue deals for other Spanish banks.

“Our work is not complete. Before Christmas, the commission will adopt decisions on the restructuring plans for other Spanish banks which have shown a capital deficit in their stress tests and thus, need public funds for recapitalization.”