8 May 2017 – La Vanguardia
Banco Popular recorded losses of €137 million during the first quarter of 2017, its first set of accounts to be published since Emilio Saracho (pictured above) took the helm. And it is clear that he has not escaped from the fallout of the property sector, the evil that tormented his predecessor Ángel Ron. In fact, the loss in Q1 is primarily explained by a €496 million provision against the entity’s real estate portfolio.
Compared to the previous year, the panorama is completely different. During the first quarter of 2016, Popular recorded a profit of €94 million. The need to clean up and strengthen the balance sheet means that the numbers have gone into the red, but the new provisions increase the coverage ratio to 45.2%, with €570 million in non-performing assets and raise the default rate to 51.4%, according to figures published by the entity on Friday.
The bank is going through a difficult time, it registered losses of almost €3,500 million last year. To stay afloat, on Friday, the entity ruled out selling assets “in an indiscriminate way”, given that it will take the decisions that it considers appropriate “always taking into account the value that may be generated for the shareholders”, according to the bank’s CEO, Ignacio Sánchez-Asiaín.
Popular is looking to sell both WiZink and Totalbank if it receives good offers for them and has said that the bank is holding “advanced conversations” for the sale of its non-strategic assets.
Similarly, the director revealed that Project Sunrise, which had been driven by Ron and which sought to place the entity’s real estate assets into a type of bad bank, has been “completely abandoned”. “If we don’t have to recognise any extraordinary provisions, of course, we expect to generate profits this year”, he added.
Popular lost €800 million in deposits in February due to the relevant events that marked the transformation of the entity and reductions in its rating by the credit rating agencies.
Nevertheless, the bank is “succeeding” in recovering deposits and specified that in this sense there is a monthly volatility, which means that Popular is not “worried” by what has happened over the last few months.
The accounts reflect gains of €180 million in the retail business, where the bank specialises in SMEs. The volume of loans granted decreased by 5.6% to €100,859 million, with a default ratio that rose to 14.91%, compared to 12.68% a year before. (…).
Meanwhile, the real estate activity recorded losses of €317 million. Property sales amounted to €459 million, with an 18.5% increase in retail sales, at the same time as the sale of real estate loans reached €402 million.
As the end of the quarter, the capital ratio amounted to 11.91%, above the requirement of 11.375%.
Original story: La Vanguardia
Translation: Carmel Drake