EU Agrees To Create National Bad Banks To Assume Doubtful Debt

11 April 2017 – RTVE

On Friday (7 April),at a meeting in La Valeta, Malta, the Economic and Finance Ministers of the European Union agreed to back the creation of national bad banks, which will take on doubtful debt from the banks and whereby try to solve the problem of the “high” level of toxic assets in the European financial sector.

These non-performing loans, whose value amounts to almost €1 billion (equivalent to 7% of the EU’s GDP), account for 5.4% of the entire European credit portfolio, on average (in Spain, they account for 5.9%). Of particular concern is the high proportion in Italy (16.4%).

The Vice-President of the European Commission for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombroviskis, said that there had been “widespread support for the development of a project regarding how to design a national asset management company” and he encouraged ministers “to make use of the experience regarding asset management companies already in operation in some member states”.

In this sense, he explained that the EU Executive will work on a document that will serve as a guide for the creation of bad banks at the national level, which will take on these toxic products. When asked about the possibility of launching such an entity at the European level, the Latvian remarked that “most of the instruments are already in the hands of the member States” and that “loans are issued in accordance with national legislation”.

The ECB used the bad bank in Spain by way of example

Meanwhile, the Vice-President of the European Central Bank (ECB), Vitor Constancio, highlighted that the preparation of this plan by Brussels was a “very important” conclusion to emerge from the meeting. He gave the example of the good results in cases such as Spain, through the ‘Company for the Management of Assets Proceeding from the Bank Restructuring’ (‘Sociedad de Gestión de Activos Procedentes de la Reestructuración Bancaria’ or Sareb). (…).

Dombrovskis added that Brussels is also exploring initiatives to facilitate the development of secondary markets for doubtful loans and in this sense, stated that “comparable and high-quality” data are “invaluable” because investors “have to know what they are buying”.

De Guindos defended the Spanish model

The Spanish Minister for the Economy, Luis de Guindos, defended the creation of a bad bank for the non-peforming loans of Europe’s banks as a solution that would eliminate “the root” of this problem, based on the model that Spain has put into practice for its real estate assets with Sareb. (…).

De Guindos underlined that it is also “very important” to value these assets properly and ensure that the provisions to cover them “are at the correct level”. Also, there must be a “fast-track legal system (in the EU) so that lenders are able to foreclose loans”.

The option of creating a bad bank was proposed by the European Banking Authority (EBA), which presented Spain’s Sareb by way of example of the benefits of these types of structure. Sareb was created to provide an exit for toxic real estate assets, but it is not supported by all parties.

Original story: RTVE

Translation: Carmel Drake

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