Spain’s Banking Sector Fears ECB Stress Tests

27 November 2017 – Voz Pópuli

Spain’s banks are facing a new perfect storm, albeit on paper. In an already difficult scenario in which the financial institutions are having to adapt to the new provisioning requirements (IFRS 9), they are also having to deal with the upcoming stress tests that are being prepared for 2018.

If we take an analogy by way of example – what is happening in the banking sector is equivalent to what would happen to a student if a decision was taken to change the language of his/her class and then a few months later force him/her to take an entrance exam in that new language. The entities have gone to the wire to try and persuade the authorities to examine them in their native language (based on their current provisions) but the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the ECB have outright refused.

The new provisions mean a radical change in the model. Until now, the banks recognise losses when their loans are impaired, in other words, when non-payments begin. Under the new system, the banks will have to anticipate advance signs of impairment.

A report from the consultancy firm Alvarez & Marsal estimates that the potential impact of the new IFRS 9 provisions on the stress tests is 465 basis points. More than half of that amount will come about in the first of the three years covered by the exercise, which reflects that from now on, crises are going to hit banks faster.

Impact

If we apply these calculations to the latest official figures from the sector (published on Friday as part of the EBA’s transparency exercise), the result in the loss of one-third of the regulatory capital (CET 1). Even so, they are stress test scenarios and so will not necessarily happen.

KutxaBank and Bankia were the entities with the largest buffers in the last year of transparency, with more than 14% of capital, although the group chaired by José Ignacio Gorigiolzarri will see its figure reduce once it completes its takeover of BMN. They are followed in the ranking by Unicaja, Abanca, Sabadell and Liberbank.

Another finding from the data published as part of the transparency exercise is that Spain’s banks have moved away from those of other peripheral countries (Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Greece) in terms of delinquency.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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