Three Spanish banks — Bankia SA, Banco Popular Espanol SA and Bankinter SA — had their credit ratings cut to junk by Standard & Poor’s, which cited Spain’s weakening economy.
S&P cut Bankia to BB+ from BBB- and its parent BFA, which was nationalized this month, was cut to B+ from BB-, the company said in statement Friday.
Popular and Bankinter were reduced to BB+, and Banca Civica SA, set to merge with CaixaBank SA, was cut to BB.
On April 30, S&P cut its ratings on 11 Spanish banks following a downgrade for the Spanish government, and said at the time it would complete a review on the wider implications on the financial industry by the end of May.
The moves also followed the downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service of 16 Spanish banks on May 17, citing concerns about souring loans, the recession, restricted access to funding and the reduced ability of the government to back up lenders as its own creditworthiness suffers. Doubts about the health of Spanish lenders, including the Bankia group, have contributed to a surge in the government’s financing costs.
The extra yield on Spanish 10-year bonds compared with German bunds jumped to 494 basis points Friday from as low as 300 basis points on March 1. A basis point is a hundredth of a percentage point.
The government said on May 11 it will hire two auditors to value lenders’ assets and told banks to set aside about 30 billion euros ($38 billion) against healthy real estate loans as it seeks to bolster confidence in the industry. That’s on top of 54 billion euros of charges and capital ordered in February.
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