Wilbur Ross, the billionaire who’s bought stakes in distressed U.S. and European lenders, said he’s interested in Spanish banking assets as the country takes measures to resolve bad loans from the real-estate bubble.
Ross’s WL Ross & Co., which holds about 10 percent of Bank of Ireland Plc., is in talks “almost every week” with representatives of large Spanish banks, he said in an interview in Abu Dhabi, without identifying potential targets.
“Maybe next year will be the year for Spain,” Ross said Monday. “That’s why we’ve been doing a lot of work in Spain. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into Spain but we haven’t put any money in there yet.”
Spain is setting up a bad bank, a mechanism also used in Ireland, to help lenders get rid of assets such as soured real estate loans and create room for loan growth. The government is seeking to purge about 180 billion euros of bad assets linked to property which the Bank of Spain says remain on lenders’ balance sheets.
“Spain has yet to go through the catharsis of real estate,” Ross said. “I don’t know if it’ll be another six months or another 12 months or whatever, but at some point we might very well do something in Spain.”
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