Banc Sabadell’s President defends the work of the current Bank of Spain Governor

Josep Oliu, President of Banc Sabadell, thinks that if somebody is to be made responsible for the current crisis, a thorough analysis of the decisions of sector managers during the 2003-2007 period should be made, and not among those currently in charge. Oliu, who has been a banker “all his life”, feels he is a “victim” of a situation provoked by managers who were “not acting as bankers”. The Catalan banker recognised that the Spanish banking system can still face the new requirements on its own but it is getting “closer to the limit of its own economic capacity”. Besides, Oliu was very satisfied with the European Commission’s green light for CAM’s integration into Banc Sabadell’s business.

CNA / Josep Molina

May 31, 2012 12:23 AM

Barcelona (ACN).- The President of Banc Sabadell, Josep Oliu, held a meeting with a group of journalists the day before the Catalan bank’s shareholder assembly. During the meeting Oliu was asked about a series of issues, such as the Bankia crisis, the work of the Bank of Spain’s Governor, or the Spanish banking system’s capacity to face the current capital requirements. When asked if those managing the financial institutions that needed to be rescued should face legal responsibilities, the Catalan banker said that this was “a legal” issue and he refused giving his opinion. However, he emphasised that, in case of insisting in finding those responsible for the current financial crisis, the search should be among those managing the sector between 2003 and 2007. It would be “an error” asking for responsibilities to those who took care of the financial institutions in “the times before being intervened”. Oliu added that, in the current “times of nervousness and confusion” and having been in the banking business “all his life”, he feels he is “a victim” of a situation provoked by managers “who were not acting as bankers”.

Oliu praised the work of Bank of Spain’s Governor

Regarding the Governor of the Bank of Spain, Miguel Angel Fernández Ordóñez, and the critics he has received, Oliu defended his work, developed “in the most difficult period” of the Spanish economy “at least in the last 100 years”. It is “very easy” to say now what should have been done in the past, said Oliu. Banc Sabadell’s President, Ordóñez carried out a “laudable job”. Oliu said that Ordóñez resisted the pressures from many powerful voices that defended the model of savings banks and he managed to impose new measures marked by banking strictness.

Spain’s banking system is “getting closer to the limit of its economic capacity”

The President of Banc Sabadell said that the problem of the Spanish banking system is “a small problem” compared to that of Spain’s entire economy and the country’s sovereign debt. When asked about the capacity of the sector to face the new financial requirements, Oliu emphasised that Spain’s banking system would not have problems to meet them. However, he recognised that the sector was “getting closer to the limit of its economic capacity” in case of being obliged to face additional requirements. 

In case the Spanish Government finally asks for financial assistance to the European Union, the reasons for asking for this assistance and its objectives will have to be “crystal clear”, stating that it would only be used to rescue some banks. According to Oliu, if this operation is developed in a transparent manner, the Spanish economy and banking sector will not be stigmatised.

Banks are not those responsible for the lack of credit

In addition, Oliu denied that the banks are those responsible for the lack of access to new loans to families and companies. “It is absolutely false” he said. According to the Catalan banker, if there is an absence of credit flow in Spain it is because of the high rates paid by the country’s debt and the difficulties to access international financial markets, as a consequence of the sovereign debt crisis. In addition, he stated that an excess of prudence by banking regulators obliges banks to save large amounts of money in provisions, which impedes the money going into the production economy.

The European Commission gives its go ahead to Banc Sabadell’s purchase of CAM

Oliu was very satisfied with the news coming from Brussels, regarding Banc Sabadell’s absorption of CAM (Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo). The European Commission has issued a favourable report, confirming that the operation respects free competition and that the merger “guarantees long-term viability without the need for continued public support”. Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the Commission and Commissioner for Competition, confirmed that “the Bank of Spain’s financial assistance to restructure CAM is in line with European legislation”. In addition, the European Commission “has confirmed that the restructuring plan correctly deals with the problems” that led the financial institution to be rescued in July 2011.