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Germán López Espinosa, Professor at the University of Navarra, Spain

Provisions and mergers

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 11:52:04 +0000 Published in

Yesterday the Minister of Economics explained in detail the reform of the Spanish financial sector designed by the Government. On the one hand, provisions will be increased to some 50 billion euros. The expected effect of this increase in the level of provisions is that confidence in the banks' balance sheets will increase and they will not have so many difficulties to finance themselves in the international market, which will facilitate access to credit .

On the other hand, having reduced the book value of real estate assets through the provision, the banks will be willing to reduce the sale price of the real estate without excessively affecting the profit and loss account. This will facilitate the exit of real estate assets from their balance sheets and, more importantly, will facilitate the necessary price adjustment in the market. Potential buyers of real estate assets will incorporate this information into their price expectations, which will force the credit entity to lower prices.

As for the reorganization process of the financial sector, by increasing the level of provisions required and allowing those entities to have an additional year to meet the provisioning requirements, this will lead to a concentration of the sector that will reduce the skill and increase the interest margin of the banking entities, reducing the incentives for the credit entities to carry out other subject riskier activities. It should be noted that this is indeed a reorganization process through "real" mergers that will bring significant synergies and economies of scale to the merged lender, which will increase its profitability and attractiveness to investors. Therefore, the reduction of skill, the process of mergers through corporate actions and the return to traditional banking activity should bring about a greater attractiveness of Spanish entities and subsequently an improvement in the fluidity of credit , goal , which is a priority for the Government. However, the cost of the reform will be borne by customers through an increase in the price of services, although it is necessary to bear in mind that the most important thing today is that the credit flows in our Economics.

Finally, regarding the entities that request financing from the FROB in the form of convertible bonds, De Guindos explained that the interest rate applicable to these will be the market rate, since if this were lower, it could be considered financial aid of State. The concept of market value implies that the interest of these bonds will be different for each entity and it will depend on the solvency level of the bank requesting it.