Veremonte could quit BCN World project if definitive Urban Planning does not fit expectations

May 21, 2015 09:19 PM | ACN

Veremonte has added additional uncertainty to the future of the BCN World project, the largest holiday resort in Europe based in the Costa Daurada, near Tarragona. After a $6 billion investment, it will include – among other facilities – 6 mega-casino hotels, amusement parks and shopping malls. Veremonte – which was initially leading the project – announced that it could leave, depending on how the Catalan Government will develop the final Urban Plan and how it will set the conditions for the second phase of the casino licences' tender. In 2012, Veremonte had already reached an agreement with La Caixa bank to buy 500 hectares of the land. However, the company missed the first deadline and did not meet the second one (last December) to do so, arguing that the final Urban Plan had not yet been approved. The Catalan Government then jumped in and reached an agreement with La Caixa for the rights to buy the land and guarantee the project's continuation. Veremonte still continues to be linked to the project through the casino licence tender, for which it is running with Hard Rock and Melco.

Land to build BCN World's macro-casinos worth €110 million and managed by Catalan Government

December 11, 2014 09:37 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government is now managing the sale of the 150 hectares owned by La Caixa on which the BCN World holiday resort should build its 6 macro-casinos. On Thursday the bank and the Catalan Executive signed the agreement, which comes the day after the private investor Veremonte announced it was postponing the land purchase once again. Veremonte had an exclusivity agreement to buy 500 hectares of land before December 10 at midnight for €380 million, but it postponed the purchase because the urban planning details were still unknown. However, the core of BCN World's project, which is the 6 Las Vegas style hotels and casinos as well as a luxury shopping mall, only takes up 150 hectares. The Catalan Government decided to jump in to strengthen the project and guarantee that the main plots will be available for private investors to build the casinos. It will manage the sale for the next 18 months, while the definitive and detailed urban planning for the area should be approved in July 2015. The other hectares will be directly sold by La Caixa.

BCN World's main investor does not buy land to build $6 billion resort by expected deadline

December 10, 2014 10:56 PM | ACN

Veremonte has decided not to buy the land to build the macro-casino and holiday resort yet and it will wait until it has a better knowledge of the town-planning project's details, which are currently being defined by the public authorities. The main company behind the holiday resort had an exclusivity right to purchase some 500 hectares of land from a Caixabank's subsidiary until December 10 at midnight for €380 million. Veremonte has confirmed it will continue to work on the $6 billion BCN World project with Hard Rock, Melco, Value Retail, Melià and Caesars Entertainment and it could buy the land at a later stage. After knowing about Veremonte's decision, the Catalan Government announced it had reached an agreement with Caixabank to manage the purchase of 150 hectares of land during 18 months at no cost, allowing other companies to buy some plots. They have also confirmed that the project will carry on, "with or without Veremonte". The first version of the town-planning project should be issued in later January and the definitive version should be approved during the summer months, in order to allow construction as from autumn 2015. 

All Catalan banks pass European Banking Authority stress test with a wide margin

October 27, 2014 07:37 PM | ACN

The Catalan banking system boasts a strong image after the publication on Sunday of the 2014 EU-wide stress test results, issued by the European Banking Authority (EBA). All the financial entities based in Catalonia have sailed through the EBA stress test, showing they could face the most adverse economic developments with only their own resources. In the most difficult scenario, Barcelona-based CaixaBank – which is the largest bank in the Spanish market – reached a 9.3% equity ratio (CET1), Banc Sabadell got an 8.3% and Catalunya Banc an 8%. The minimum required was 5.5%, which was not reached by 24 of the 123 European banks analysed. Only one Spanish entity, Madrid-based Liberbank, would need additional capital in the worst case scenario.

CaixaBank buys Barclays' Spanish unit for €800 million, with estimated restructuring costs of €300 million

September 1, 2014 09:37 PM | ACN

Barcelona-based Caixabank has come to an agreement with Barclays Bank PLC to buy Barclays Bank SAU for €800 million. The purchase of Spain's banking business of the UK company includes 550,000 new customers, a network of 270 branches and nearly 2,400 employees. However, the agreement excludes Barclay's Spanish investment banking business and Barclaycard, which will remain in the hands of the British entity. It is expected that the transaction will become effective later this year. The restructuring process following this acquisition will cost CaixaBank an estimated €300 million. However, the elimination of duplications is expected to save the Catalan bank €70 billion gross in 2015, €80 billion in 2016 and €150 million a year from then on.

CaixaBank registers a net profit of €305 million during the first half of 2014, 25% less than last year

July 25, 2014 03:09 PM | ACN

Barcelona-based CaixaBank, which leads the Spain's banking market, registers a net attribute profit of €305 million during the first half of 2014. This is 25.3% less than 2013 and it is due to extraordinary operations such as the costs of totally integrating Banc de València and the effects of 2012 regulatory regarding the restructuring of toxic real estate assets. Apart from that, the profit attributable to the banking and insurance business, which excludes real estate activity and the investments portfolio, stands at €665 million. The banking business has generated €1.72 billion, representing a 6.8% increase, and highlights the acceleration of the decrease of the delinquency rate, which fell for the second consecutive quarter and now stands at 10.78%, 88 basis points less. 

BBVA buys nationalised Catalunya Banc for €1.19 billion, meaning taxpayers will lose more than €11 billion

July 22, 2014 08:57 PM | ACN

BBVA will pay €1.187 billion to the Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB) for the nationalised Catalan bank, beating the other two offers in the final phase of the auction process presented by Santander and Barcelona-based CaixaBank. This means that Spanish taxpayers will lose €11.84 billion considering guarantees and due to the fact that the Spanish Government injected €12.622 billion into Catalunya Banc since it was nationalised in 2011. Catalunya Banc was a private bank owned by CatalunyaCaixa, the merger of three historical Catalan savings banks (Catalunya, Tarragona and Manresa). It could not face the deep restructuring process required to meet the new banking regulations. The bank had a weak financial position resulting from a high exposition to toxic real estate and mortgages assets, as well as suffering from poor management. The BBVA will become the second largest bank operating in Catalonia, doubling its past position.

Criteria, the industrial holding of La Caixa, acquires 7% of France's Suez Environnement

July 18, 2014 08:27 PM | ACN

Barcelona-based Criteria CaixaHolding becomes the second largest shareholder of Suez Environnement after signing a binding agreement with the French-based utility company for the sale of Criteria's 24.14% stake in Agbar (Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona, S.A.) in exchange for 22 million newly issued Suez Environnement shares. These shares represent 4.1% of Suez's share capital and €299 million in cash. As part of the agreement, Criteria stated its intention to allocate part of the money received from the purchase of Suez Environnement shares in the stock market, aiming to achieve, depending on market conditions, a 7% stake in Suez Environnement, a company which currently controls 75.35% of Agbar.

Barcelona art museum CaixaForum exhibits a selection of the ´little treasures´ from Madrid's Prado

July 17, 2014 05:26 PM | ACN / Pau Cortina

On the 16th July Barcelona art centre Caixaforumopened its last major exhibition of the season entitled ´Beauty captivates. Little treasures from the Museo del Prado´. The exhibition contains 135 small canvases from the great artists within Madrid´s museum collection such as Velázquez, El Greco, Rubens, Goya and Tiziano. It will run for almost six months, until the 5th of January 2015. The exhibition will enable visitors to contemplate the virtuosity of great masters of painting from the 14th to the 19th century dealing with small-scale works. It is the second largest collection of works that a host museumhas exhibited from the Museo del Prado, one of Europe's largest art collections.

CaixaBank sells €1 billion in 10-year mortgage covered bonds below Spanish Treasury bonds' price

March 12, 2014 06:11 PM | ACN

On Tuesday the Barcelona-based bank, which is the largest financial entity within the Spanish market, attracted a strong €2.6 billion demand, 88% of which came from international investors. It was CaixaBank's 10-year mortgage covered bond first issue since 2007, before the financial crisis. The operation will boost the Catalan bank's liquidity position, which stood at €60.762 billion at year-end 2013, 17.9% of its total assets. In addition, it satisfies demand from institutional investors for this product. The issue price was 80 basis points over the mid-swap rate and better than expected thanks to strong investor demand. This means CaixaBank sold the mortgage covered bonds at an interest rate of 2.625%, 67 basis points below the last rate for a similar issue by the Spanish Treasury.

Insurance company VidaCaixa’s net profit drops by 46% to settle at €420 million

February 14, 2014 07:26 PM | ACN

In 2013, the consolidated net profit of VidaCaixa, the insurance branch of Spain’s largest bank CaixaBank, amounted to €420.1 million. The figure represents a 46.2% decrease on the previous year, when it had reached €789.5 million. This decrease is due to the effects of the reinsurance transaction on the company’s ‘vida-risc’ life insurance, which occurred in the last quarter of 2012, bringing in an extra income of €600 million back then. On the other hand, the net recurring profit for 2013 totalled €328.3 million, 3.1% less than the previous year. VidaCaixa has reached 3.6 million customers and exceeded €50 billion of assets under management, both figures amounting to a 14.1% increase on the previous year.

€503 million profits for CaixaBank in 2013, ending a 4-year-long downward trend

January 31, 2014 07:29 PM | ACN

Barcelona-based CaixaBank, Spain’s largest bank, has earned €503 million in 2013, representing a 118 % increase on 2012. The private bank mostly owned by La Caixa has left behind a 4-year-long downward trend in profits which can be traced back to December 2009, towards the start of the economic crisis. This result was successfully reached by trying to maintain a similar provision volume than in 2012, which resulted in consuming €7.5 billion, meaning 4.81 % less than what was spent last year. The integration of Banca Cívica and Banc de València have contributed to a growth of the market share to 27.4 %. The bank’s core capital, which is the main solvency indicator, stood at 12.9% according to Basel II regulations and at 11.7% according to Basel III regulations.

Barcelona-based CaixaBank sells €1 billion in 3.5 year-bonds at a 2.5%

October 7, 2013 10:24 PM | ACN

In addition, CaixaBank declares that “it will take all the opportunities” to grow in the Spanish market. The Catalan CaixaBank, which is Spain’s main retail bank, has sold €1 billion in 3.5 year bonds, after a market demand of €2.8 billion. In fact, the large demand made the issue price drop from 180 to 170 basic points on ‘midswap’, which is the reference index for this sort of corporate bonds. The issue interest was set at 2.5% and the issue cost represents 18.5 basic points over the Spanish Treasury Debt’s price. The new issue by CaixaBank is part of the bank’s financial plan for 2013, which aims to strengthen CaixaBank’s liquidity, set to reach 64.604 billion by 30th June.

Barcelona-based CaixaBank earns €408 million in the first half of 2013, 146% more than last year

July 26, 2013 10:22 PM | ACN

The Catalan bank, which is the highest financial entity within the Spanish market, obtained a net profit of €408 million between January and June. This figure is 2.45 times higher than that of last year for the same period thanks to the integration of Banca Cívica and Banc de València. The bank which is owned by La Caixa and chaired by Isidre Fainé increased its reserves to €5.38 billion, a rise of 44% on last year. In the presentation of the results, CaixaBank’s CEO, Joan Maria Nin, confirmed the Catalan banking giant will “have a look” at the conditions of the auctions of Catalunya Banc and Nova Caixa Galicia. Nin also recognised that the funding system for SMEs in Spain can be significantly “improved”.

Barcelona-based CaixaBank is considered the world's best bank in technological innovation

July 13, 2013 01:22 AM | CNA

The British financial magazine ‘Euromoney’ has named the Catalan CaixaBank the world’s best bank in a technological innovation ranking. Furthermore, the publication considered CaixaBank to be the best Spanish bank for the second consecutive year. The Catalan entity is the largest bank within the Spanish market, ahead of the two world giants Santander and BBVA. Furthermore, CaixaBank leads online banking in Spain with 8.8 million clients.