BRUSSELS – The euro zone will disburse up to 100 billion euros ($122 billion) in loans to Spanish banks in four tranches, including as much as 25 billion euros to “bad banks” that are to be created to isolate toxic real-estate assets.
The Dutch government unveiled these latest details of the aid package hours before that country’s lawmakers approved the Netherlands’ contribution.
A document posted on the Dutch Finance Ministry’s Web site indicates the loans will be disbursed in four tranches following analysis of Spanish banks’ loan portfolios and the results of a stress test that is to be carried out to determine those institutions’ precise capital needs and which will be completed by the second half of September 2012.
The first tranche of 30 billion euros ($36.6 billion), to be available at the end of July, will be kept in reserve by the European Financial Stability Facility, or EFSF, and used for emergency needs.
The possible use of any amount of the first tranche prior to the adoption by the European Commission of bank restructuring decisions will require a request from Spain’s central bank and the approval of the European Commission and the Euro Working Group.
If Spain does not need those 30 billion euros, two-thirds of the sum will be transferred to the second tranche and the other 10 billion euros – conceived as a security cushion – will be set aside for possible pay-out at the end of the 18-month disbursement period.
The second tranche, therefore, could amount to as much as 45 billion euros, including the 20 billion in unused funds from the first tranche and another 25 billion euros, which will be delivered to Spain’s Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring, or FROB, in mid-November.
That 45-billion-euro disbursement, accounting for about 60 percent of the Spanish banking sector’s total recapitalization needs, will be earmarked to prop up banks that have been nationalized by the FROB and are still viable (Group 1 banks) – BFA/Bankia, Catalunya Caixa, NCG Banco and Banco de Valencia – and to liquidate non-viable institutions.
The third tranche of 15 billion euros, to be disbursed in late December, will be used to recapitalize banks that have not been taken over by the FROB and which have a capital shortfall that must be covered with state aid, known as Group 2 banks. At that time, non-viable Group 2 banks are to undergo an orderly resolution process.
That same tranche also will be used to inject contingent convertible bonds, known in the jargon as “cocos,” into Group 3 banks, those with a capital shortfall identified by the stress test but with credible plans to recapitalize themselves privately.
The fourth tranche also could amount to 15 billion euros and will be focused on aiding Group 3 banks that tried but were unable to raise funding on their own accord in financial markets.
Lastly, up to 25 billion euros in additional funding is to be disbursed to the “bad banks” that institutions in need of public aid will need to create by November to house their toxic assets.
The aid will initially be paid to the Spanish government out of the EFSF.
But once the euro zone’s permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, is ratified by the euro-zone member states, the loans will be switched to a direct bank recapitalization scheme and “there will be no need for sovereign guarantee for banks,” Simon O’Connor, spokesman for European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn, said this week.
The direct bank recapitalization issue is a vital one for the Spanish government, which fears a further spike in public debt amid a scenario in which yields on its bonds have already climbed to nearly unsustainable levels.
The Iberian nation’s economy has been battered in recent years by the global recession and the collapse of a massive real-estate bubble, which has left many of its banks saddled with toxic property assets.
The country faces a serious unemployment crisis, with the jobless rate above 50 percent among young people and 24.6 percent overall.
Yet it must balance measures to boost growth with its EU-mandated obligations to bring its deficit down to less than 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2014, compared with 8.9 percent of GDP in 2011.
To that latter end, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy unveiled a $80 billion austerity plan Wednesday, the fourth such package of his seven-month-old administration. EFE