12 March 2015 – Expansión
‘Sareb got married in a rush, without preparing a gift list, and after the ceremony it began to realise what the gift boxes it had come home with actually contained’. Shortly after the creation of the bad bank, one of its senior executives used this metaphor to explain the need to review the assets that the entity had received from the former savings banks.
In order to meet the deadlines set by Brussels for the financial bailout, Bankia, Novagalicia, Catalunya Banc, Banco de Valencia, Banco Gallego, Banco Mare Nostrum, Liberbank, Cajatres and Ceiss transferred a huge volume of properties and developer loans (to Sareb) in a mad rush.
On the basis of valuation reports performed by independent experts, the Bank of Spain set the price that Sareb paid for the assets: €50,781 million in total, in bonds guaranteed by the State. But Sareb reserved the right to review these transfer prices, in an operation known as the “correction of hidden flaws”, to make up for errors in both valuation and scope (perimeter) – assets that did not fall within the perimeter in the end and assets that should not have fallen inside the perimeter – and to make a claim for the difference.
One of the peculiarities of the transfer review mechanism is that the bad bank only allows for corrections in its favour. After reporting the errors detected to the former savings banks and evaluating the claims, Sareb corrects the differences by repaying the bonds it used to pay for them.
To date, the bad bank has already recovered €640 million of the amount it paid to the entities in relation to both valuation and scope (perimeter) errors. The entity most affected to date has been Catalunya Banc, with €318 million (of corrections), followed by Novagalicia (€182 million) and Bankia (€127 million).
But this total amount is expected to rise, because the company chaired by Jaime Echegoyen has reserved its right to review prices for up to 36 months, a period that will expire at the end of 2015 for the entities classified in Group 1 (Bankia, Novagalicia, Catalunya Banc and Banco Valencia) and in February 2016 for the entities in Group 2 (BMN, Liberbank, Ceiss and Cajatres).
Nevertheless, Sareb does not expect to work up until the deadlines in every case. It has already closed an agreement to finalise the review of the price paid for the assets transferred from Novagalicia, Catalunya Banc, Banco de Valencia and Ceiss. Now its investigation will focus on the properties and loans transferred from Bankia, Liberbank, and BMN; it still needs to sign an agreement to finalise the review with Banco Gallego or Cajatres.
Moreover, Sareb reserves the right to review for scope errors until the end of the remaining life of the (corresponding) asset(s), for those assets it paid for but which were never transferred or those that were transferred when they should not have been, such as any consumer loans.
The experts at the asset management company are basing their detailed analysis on the audit that was conducted by a consortium of thirteen companies, coordinated by the law firm Clifford Chance, but they will go into more detail for certain samples.
Original story: Expansión (by Alicia Crespo)
Translation: Carmel Drake