Spanish banks – no hurry to shift distressed assets

BBVA - In no hurry to shift assets
BBVA – In no hurry to shift assets

The boss of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) says that the second largest bank in Spain is “in no hurry” to move the 1.5 billion euros in distressed assets, choosing to wait for bids to go up.

BBVA’s Chairman and Chief Executive Francisco Gonzalez made the comments in Taipei as he attended the opening of the banks new office. He also said that he does not envisage any significant improvement in international feeling towards Spain’s banking sector following the approval of 100 billion euros to recapitalise them.

“We are in the process of selling (our distressed assets). Any euros we can get is a profit. We are not in a hurry and we are waiting for bids. Those bids were really low a year ago but are now going up and we are waiting for even better bids,” Gonzalez said, but declined to say how much the bank expected to sell.

BBVA is trying to sell a mix of repossessed real estate and defaulted loans, a similar situation to most other Spanish banks.

Euro zone leaders agreed a deal to inject capital directly into Spanish banks and to buy bonds to support financially strapped countries, and to try and curb a regional debt crisis that could threaten the Euro.

Despite the rescue efforts, Gonzalez said he does not see any improvement in sentiment towards Spanish banks among international investors.

“Now we are in the midst of the turmoil, and my view is that it has probably improved a little bit over the last few days because of what has happened in EU over the weekend, I think people are starting to understand the real scope of the decisions taken at the summit,” he said, adding that although there has been some signs of a positive reaction in the markets, more time was needed.

He also said that the crisis will not stop BBVA’s international expansion.

“The crisis is a big opportunity for BBVA to expand market share. We haven’t changed our expansion plans all over the world. We believe our business model is very consistent and we see a lot of growth in the countries in which we are working.”

Higher Real Estate Coverage for Spanish Banks

Fitch RatingsRatings agency, Fitch Ratings, have released a report with a correction to the Bank of Spain figures for banks’ total problematic real-estate exposure.

A Necessary Step Forward but Important Challenges Ahead

Mandatory Real Estate Cover

One of the measures taken by Spain’s new government to stimulate credit and promote economic growth is the reform of the banking system, with a focus on imposing more demanding coverage levels on banks’ real estate (RE) exposures through income statement provisions and capital buffers. These requirements will place significant pressure on banks’ stretched income statements and capital management strategies at a time when Spain enters into recession, stimulating consolidation.

Neutral Rating Implications

From the information available to date, Fitch Ratings believes that there are a number of institutions, mostly the largest ones, including the two large international Spanish banks, that are able to meet both the new provisioning and capital buffers, without any impact on their ratings. This is because of the one-off nature of the reform in 2012.

Negative Rating Implications

Smaller banks, particularly those with capital injections from the state‟s Fund for Orderly Banking Restructuring (FROB), will face difficulties in complying with requirements in just one year, given their low revenue generation capacity (which could lead to losses) and tighter capital, and will be forced to merge. For the stronger institutions that merge with weaker institutions, there will be downward rating pressure from the potential weakening of their risk profile, additional provisioning and capital needs, and execution risks.

You can see the full report “Higher Real Estate Coverage for Spanish Banks” on www.fitchratings.com.