Finance and Economics；Spanish banks；The long kiss goodnight；
A bank merger sheds fresh light on a sickly industry；
It may be Spain's most short-lived public company. Just a few months after its July debut on the Spanish stockmarket, Banca Cívica this week agreed to sell itself to CaixaBank, a larger rival, at an 11% discount to its market price. The “take-under” is a sharp reminder of Spain's property woes.
它可能是西班牙史上最短命的上市公司。就在本周，Banca Cívica银行同意以低于市价11%的折扣把自己出售给其强劲的竞争对手Caixa银行，此时距离它去年七月在在西班牙股票市场首次公开发行仅过去不过数月。Banca Cívica银行的“贱卖”让人们猛然想起了哀鸿遍野的西班牙地产市场。
Banca Cívica listed in the first place to meet capital targets set by the then Spanish government. Now it is one of the first casualties of rules set by the new government to get banks to set aside provisions and capital worth 50 billion Euro(66 billion Dollar) to cover losses on dud property loans. Faced with a capital and provisioning shortfall of 2 billion Euro, Banca Cívica accepted an all-share deal that valued it at a third of its book value. The combined entity will become Spain's largest bank by assets, with around 15% of the retail market.
前任西班牙政府制定的资本充足率目标对银行业影响甚广，首当其冲的便是Banca Cívica银行。新届政府成立后，又要求银行业对不良房地产贷款计提价值500亿欧元（660亿美元）资本的坏账准备金。由于资本不足，Banca Cívica银行的坏账准备金面临着20亿欧元的缺口，只得接受换股收购，以账面价值三分之一的价格将自己出售。合并后的企业实体以资产来计将成为西班牙最大的银行，占据大约15%的零售市场
The deal may not be good for Cívica's shareholders, but it is positive for the system as a whole that a stronger bank is using its excess capital to clean up a weaker one. As part of the deal, CaixaBank will write down 3.4 billion Euro of Banca Cívica's assets, 3 billion Euro of which relates to property loans and foreclosures—more than the amount Banca Cívica was officially supposed to set aside and a sign that the current provisioning targets might still be insufficient. CaixaBank can afford to take the hit. Its core capital will drop by 1.7 percentage points, yet it is still on track to meet the 9% core-capital mark demanded by European regulators by the summer.
这笔交易或许不符合Banca Cívica银行股东们的利益，但对整个市场来说却是个积极的信号，因为一家强大的银行将用它多余的资本为另一家虚弱银行清理不良贷款。作为交易的一部分，Caixa银行会对Banca Cívica银行的资产减记34亿欧元，这当中有30亿欧元与房地产贷款以及抵押品停止赎回有关——超过了之前Banca Cívica银行官方估计的处理金额，这很可能预示着目前的坏账准备金目标仍过低。Caixa银行能够承受这一资产减值的打击，虽然它的核心资本充足率将因此下降1.7%，但仍满足今年夏天欧洲央行规定的9%的的目标。
Capital elsewhere is scarce, however. Most other lenders lack CaixaBank's powerful balance-sheet: they are focused on meeting a March 31st deadline to present their plans to the Bank of Spain on how to meet the new provisioning requirements. And just like its predecessor, the government is trying to minimise the cost of bank rescues to the taxpayer and to the country's public finances, now firmly back in the bond-market spotlight. “Unfortunately, the capacity to recognise losses is extremely limited because, as things stand, there is no capital, private or public, for a convincing recapitalisation,” worries Tano Santos of Columbia University.
The government used money from an industry-backed deposit guarantee fund (FGD) to inject capital and guarantee risky assets during the sale of two nationalised banks, Banco CAM and Unnim. Three more nationalised lenders will soon be auctioned and will also need money to smooth the way. But the pot is now nearly empty. The FGD could ask for extraordinary contributions from banks or raise debt backed by future annual contributions. But bankers grumble that this is like trying to get a sick patient to cure himself.
One source of concern is BFA Bankia, which listed the day before Banca Cívica last summer and faces a provisioning and capital shortfall of 5.1 billion Euro. After deducting provisions already taken in 2011, asset sales and the recent swap of preference shares in its parent group, BFA, for Bankia shares, the shortfall is closer to 2.7 billion Euro. Speculation that it might merge with CaixaBank was quashed by the latter's deal with Cívica, but rumours swirl about other mergers.
BFA Bankia现在尤其令人担忧。这家银行在去年夏天仅比Banca Cívica银行早一天上市。它面临的准备金和资本短缺达到了51亿欧元。该银行在2011年通过资产出售和向母公司互换优先股的方式筹集了一部分准备金，但仍面临着27亿欧元的资金缺口。此前曾有传言Caixa银行将与BFA Bankia进行合并，尽管随后发生的CaixaBank 与Cívica的合并交易使得谣言不攻自破，但有关其并购的各种传闻依然甚嚣尘上。
Bankia says it can make it on its own. The shortfall will be covered by a combination of profits, balance-sheet shrinkage and more asset sales and preference-share swaps. Rodrigo Rato, the chairman, downplayed the challenges in its 2011 results presentation. “Bankia doesn't represent a systemic problem,” he said. “Bankia is systemic, but it isn't a problem.”
All of which leaves the new government in a similar bind to the old one. Forcing a rapid clean-up of the sector risks soaking up scarce public money. But leaving the banks to muddle their way through has costs, too. Although the European Central Bank's three-year loan programme has eased funding pressures on Spanish banks, a credit crunch is under way. Listed Spanish banks shrank their loan books by 3.7% in 2011, according to estimates by Exane BNP Paribas, an investment firm which expects the trend to continue this year and next. That risks worsening the economic situation, and the losses that lenders face. Tightening the screws on provisions is an important step, but the government may yet need another reform plan.