Monday, 11 June 2012

ECB's Coene: Spain Banking Aid Decision Will Prevent Contagion


By Frances Robinson
 
BRUSSELS--The decision to provide assistance to Spain's banks will prevent further contagion in the euro zone, a member of the European Central Bank governing council said Monday.

Over the weekend, Spain said it would accept up to 100 billion euros ($125 billion) in guarantees for its troubled banks and is expected to make a formal request for the money this week, although independent assessments of the amounts required will only come towards the end of June.

"What's positive is we've got a mechanism in place that will allow us to isolate the Spanish problem," Luc Coene told reporters. "This risk is now being limited, it's under control, we've got the necessary resources to do that."

Statements about the bailout by Spain and the European Union have left several open questions, including the exact amount of aid the country will need and how the funds will be disbursed.

And while Coene said details needed to be finalized about how the money will flow from the permanent bailout fund--the European Stability Mechanism--to Spain's banks, he advocated taking the best approach according to circumstances.

He also said the funding decision wouldn't affect the European Central Bank's exceptional policy measures, such as the securities markets program of bond-buying, which was designed to improve monetary policy transmission.

"There is no connection between the two things," he said.
Asked if the structure of senior creditors within the ESM could cause problems, Coene replied he "didn't think so."

"ESM debt is senior, but that is not in itself enough to have a credit event," he said, adding that the final details have yet to be confirmed.

"This has nothing to do with ratings, or non-compliance with conditions," he said.
Initial market reaction to the deal shouldn't be over-interpreted as "it's not unusual for markets to fluctuate," he added.

Spanish government bond prices fell Monday, after an initial relief rally as concerns mounted that the deal will load more debt on to the Spanish state and threaten to subordinate bondholders behind official creditors.
Write to Frances Robinson at frances.robinson@dowjones.com

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