Europe’s Finance Ministers Consider Creating An EU Bad Bank

4 April 2017 – Expansión

According to working documents to which Efe has had access, the European Union’s (EU) Economic and Finance Ministers will meet on Friday to discuss the possibility of creating a bad bank in order to offload the non-performing loans accumulated by European banks in the market.

The text, drawn up by Malta in its role as the current Presidency of the EU, will serve as a basis for reflecting on the actions that may be adopted at the EU level, to reduce the burden of non-performing loans on European entities, during an informal meeting of the ministers in Malta.

These non-recoverable loans account for 5.4% of the total loan portfolio and are worth more than €1 billion (equivalent to more than 7% of the EU’s GDP).

In addition to the creation of an asset management company, widely known as a bad bank, consideration will also be given to the option of creating a secondary market in the EU for these types of loans, to improve supervision, strengthen insolvency regimes and tackle the accumulation of pending court cases.

“Experience suggests that the creation of asset management companies can help to tackle the accumulation of non-performing loans (NPL) regardless of their capital structure (public, private or mixed)”, said the document.

The Maltese Presidency highlighted that the establishment of this company “would very likely” represent a boost to the secondary market for these assets, by creating a transaction history, and at the same time, grouping together these loans would reduce the information gap between buyers and sellers and would facilitate access to the market for smaller banks.

Nevertheless, the Presidency explained that in the past, there have been cases in which these bad banks have served only as a “cushion for removing NPLs from the banks’ balance sheets” and that there have only been “limited sales” in the market.

As a result, it advocates a hypothetical bad bank that fulfils certain “success factors”, such as suitable governance agreements and proactive strategies to maximise the value of its portfolio.

The current EU Presidency considers that this measure should be accompanied by a “substantial boost” in investment in impaired assets in the EU, by private and public investors alike.

In this sense, it underlines that the creation of this company should be executed “in line” with EU rules regarding bank resolution and State aid.

Meanwhile, the Economic and Finance Ministers will analyse the options for boosting a secondary market in which these loans could be offloaded, which is currently being hampered by a lack of reliable information about the quality of the assets and differences in information between sellers and buyers.

In this sense, it opens the door to the creation of “state-sponsored” platforms for transactions involving non-performing loans.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

67