Sunday 25 February 2018

Slovenia says its banks need €4.8bn in extra capital

Slovenia's banks need €4.8bn to plug the holes in their balance sheets, the central bank said today, a sum the country can probably scrape together without having to ask its euro zone peers for a bailout.

Banks in Slovenia are saddled with an estimated €7.9bn in bad loans -- equivalent to a fifth of national output -- after the global economic slowdown exposed their poor lending practices and tangled ownership structure.

At stake in Slovenia is whether the euro zone as a whole can say with confidence it is emerging from the convulsions of the past five years, or whether it still risks slipping back into the kind of crises that hit Greece, Ireland and Cyprus.

Unveiling the results of an external assessment of how much of the banks' lending has gone sour, central bank governor Bostjan Jazbec said the three biggest Slovenian banks needed 3.12 billion euros in re-capitalisation.

The three will get €2.1bn in cash, will raise another €441m from imposing losses on junior bondholders, and will get about €905m of government guaranteed bonds, according to documents published by the government.

Five smaller banks would be given until June 2014 to raise €1.6bn from private capital.

The lion's share of Slovenia's bad debt is held by the big three state banks, who together admitted to losses of close to 390 million euros in the first nine months of 2013 and have some of the poorest capital ratios in Europe.

The banking problems represent a dramatic fall from grace for Slovenia, an ex-Yugoslav country that for years was viewed as a haven of stability and economic health.

The government has already received parliamentary approval to recapitalise the banks by up to €4.7bn.

The government plans to ring-fence up to €4bn in a 'bad bank', leaving healthy banks that would be easier to sell. It needs EU approval to begin the transfer of loans.

Even if Slovenia can avert a calamity now, economists say it will face a drawn-out crisis as it remakes its economy to take account of the new, harsher economic realities.

It will have to conduct a fire sale of assets still owned by the state, including banks, telecoms, supermarkets and newspapers. It may also have to scrap some of its generous social protections, such as a rule requiring employers to give workers an allowance for lunch.



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