financial markets

Barcelona municipality posts a budget surplus of €140 million in 2013

March 20, 2014 08:03 PM | ACN

Barcelona’s City Council has achieved a cumulative budget surplus of €23.5 million for the last few years, after posting a budget surplus of €139.3 million in 2013. In a press conference on Wednesday, the Deputy Mayor for Economy, Business and Employment, Sònia Recasens also announced that the city had eventually executed 97.55%, (€2.25 billion) of its planned expenditure. Such a figure is higher than the average execution ratio for 2009-2013. The execution ratio for investments amounts to 94% (€356 million) and is also significantly higher than in 2009-2013. In addition, debt levels represent 46.7% of the annual ordinary revenue. Furthermore, the City Council paid its providers in 29.2 days on average. Thanks to these figures, the City Council will make available 1,000 new social housing units in Barcelona.

More than 1,400 SMEs shout "enough" to the Spanish and Catalan fiscal measures "discriminating" against them

March 20, 2014 04:14 PM | ACN

On Wednesday evening the main Catalan small- and medium-sized enterprises association, Pimec, organised a protest conference in which they accused the Spanish and Catalan Governments of politically and financially "discriminating" against them. With the slogan #diguemprou (#wesayenough) 1,400 owners of SMEs and self-employed workers protested against both Governments for not taking SMEs into account and only working for the interests of large corporations. The protest was explicitly backed by 220 guilds and associations, as well as by 9 professional associations and that of self-employed workers. The event issued a manifesto compiling a list of grievances, split into 7 different areas: entrepreneurship; loans and funding; taxation; labour market; energy; training and employment; and internationalisation.

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.

Catalonia’s new tax on 15,000 empty flats owned by banks as “incentive” to have them rented

March 5, 2014 08:05 PM | ACN

The Catalan Minister for Territory and Sustainability, Santi Vila, who is also in charge of housing policies, presented on Tuesday the draft of a new tax bill on empty flats and houses owned by financial institutions in Catalonia. During a press conference, Vila explained that such a tax is looking to be an “incentive” for banks to make available their 15,000 flats spread across 70 municipalities with “proven demand” for housing, mainly around Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida and Girona, and which have been empty for more than 2 years without a justified cause. The amount of the tax will be based on the total number of square meters owned by the banks and will include significant accumulative bonuses if the institutions decide to rent their properties, notably for social housing. The Catalan Government estimates that banks own around 40,000 empty flats, including in areas with housing demand.


€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.

Catalan Finance Minister accuses Rajoy of sidelining and homogenising the Autonomous Communities

January 24, 2014 02:57 PM | ACN

Andreu Mas-Colell, Catalan Finance Minister, accused the Spanish Government of aiming “to undo” the system of Autonomous Communities. He also expressed his fear that the so-called ‘coffee for all’ system [the generalised devolution of the early 1980s that shaped the 17 Autonomous Communities] will become a ‘decaffeinated coffee’ system, implemented ‘in depth’. With this play on words, Mas-Colell was referring to a deep recentralisation and homogenisation process. Furthermore, the former professor of Economics at Harvard and Berkley, denounced “the budget treatment” that the Spanish Government gives to Catalonia as “totally unfair”. In this vein, he proposed that an international and independent body should calculate the fiscal balances between Catalonia and the Spanish State.

Catalan chemists have already received 74% of the pending arrears

November 21, 2013 03:07 PM | ACN

The Catalan Chemists’ Professional Association, in charge of distributing the money from partially-subsidised prescribed drugs, has already received €309 million of the €416 million arrears payments due.The Professional Association announced the “immediate distribution” of the money received. Two weeks ago, Catalan chemists went on strike for these arrears, urging the Catalan and Spanish Governments to issue the payments. In theory the Catalan Executive is in charge of paying them, but to do so it needs a previous transfer from the Spanish Government. The necessary transfers from Madrid have been arriving intermittently over the last year and on many occasions with considerable delay. For these reasons, chemists protested on the 7th November in front of the Spanish Government’s Delegation in Barcelona.

The Catalan Government ended the first quarter of 2013 with a deficit of 0.21%

May 17, 2013 12:09 AM | CNA

Between January and March, the Catalan Government had a budget deficit of €411 million, representing 0.21% of Catalonia’s GDP. The definitive deficit target for 2013 for each Autonomous Community has not been set by the Spanish Government yet. Madrid set a 1.2% target a few weeks ago but everybody assumes it will be raised as negotiations are on-going with the Catalan Government. Rumours indicate that Catalonia’s deficit target may finally be set at around 1.8%. The Autonomous Communities posted a total public deficit of €1.24 billion at the end of the first quarter, corresponding to 0.12% of Spain’s GDP. According to the Spanish Deputy Minister for Budget, the figure represents half the deficit posted in the same period last year.

Catalonia’s public body offering credit funded 8,500 companies in 2011 and 2012 with €1.7 billion

March 25, 2013 10:03 PM | CNA

The Institut Català de Finances (ICF), the Catalan Government’s financial institution which offers credit, announced that it gave €1.7 billion in loans to 8,500 companies over the last two years in an Action Plan. The plan’s main objective is to foster economic activity and prevent companies from going bankrupt due to liquidity issues. 98% of those who received loans were SMEs and independent workers. The ICF’s Action Plan had the objective of injecting liquidity into the real economy, into the Catalan business network, while the private banks are going through their restructuring process and access to credit is particularly difficult for many companies.

The Catalan Government posts a debt of €50.95 billion at the end of 2012

March 14, 2013 08:09 PM | CNA

The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell has announced that the Catalan Government had a public debt of €50,948 million on the 31st of December, 2012. Catalonia’s debt has increased by €16 billion in only 2 years due to the financial crisis. Furthermore, in 2013, the Catalan Government will have to pay €2.2 billion in interest on the debts – equivalent to 8% of its budget and 1% of Catalonia’s annual GDP. Catalonia has been a net contributor to the European Union for decades and has been paying around 8.5% of its annual GDP – equivalent to €17 billion – every year for services and infrastructure in the rest of Spain. Despite this fact, the Catalan Government does not receive enough money from the Spanish Executive, which raises most of the taxes and distributes revenue among Autonomous Communities.

Banc Sabadell posts €81.9 million profit in 2012, 64.7% less than last year

February 11, 2013 07:30 PM | CNA / Rosa Soto

The Catalan Banc Sabadell finished 2012 with positive results and net benefits of €81.9 million. Banc Sabadell has now reached 5th position among the Spanish financial entities in the last economic exercise due to its assets valued at €175 billion. However, this figure shows a 64.7% drop in benefits in comparison to 2011. The main reason for the decrease is the €2.54 billion for provisions, 142.2% more than 2011. The President of Banc Sabadell, Josep Oliu, emphasised the company’s solvency and spoke of its capacity to buy additional entities in the international market.

Banc Sabadell places €1 billion in five-year covered bonds in less than two hours

January 11, 2013 09:57 PM | CNA

The Catalan bank has issued debt securities for €1 billion that attracted a demand of €3.4 billion. As other multinational companies such as CaixaBank and Gas Natural Fenosa did this week, Banc Sabadell is profiting from the lower spread in order to pay lower interest rates than they were a few months ago. The Catalan private bank has obtained a spread of 250 basis points over the midswap rate, which is a better interest rate than that obtained by the Spanish Treasury in its recent operations.

Barcelona-based CaixaBank issues €1 billion in senior bonds attracting huge international demand

January 9, 2013 11:02 PM | CNA

The operation has rocketed CaixaBank shares in the Spanish stock exchange market, which increased by 11.75% in just one day. The Catalan CaixaBank, which is the largest bank in Spain, successfully issued €1 billion in 3-year senior bonds. The operation has attracted more than 300 orders from institutional investors, representing around €5 billion, which has allowed the Barcelona-based bank to sell its bonds at a better price thanks to the significant oversubscription. 80% of the bonds issued were placed among international investors, confirming the positive recognition CaixaBank has in international financial markets. It was the first time their senior bonds have been issued on the international markets since 2010.

The Catalan Government delays ordinary payments in September due to not receiving Spain’s €560 million on time

October 6, 2012 01:00 AM | CNA

The Spanish Government states that the money will “start to arrive” next Tuesday. Over the past few weeks, the Catalan Finance Minister has warned about the urgency of receiving the requested €560 million from the Liquidity Fund for the Autonomous Communities (FLA) in order to face all September’s payments. However, the Spanish Government has sent €400 million to pay debt maturities but has not sent the remaining €560 million to pay private health, education and social centres that receive regular funds from the Catalan Executive. All direct salaries have been paid, but not other payments. In August, the Catalan Government requested €5.02 billion from the FLA for the entire year 2012 in order to face debt maturities and ordinary payments, since access to international markets is closed to the Autonomous Communities.

Spanish banking system’s stress tests show that CaixaBank and Banc Sabadell do not need additional funds

September 29, 2012 02:00 PM | CNA

However, CatalunyaBanc would need a maximum of €10.83 billion in the most stressed scenario. According to the independent audit by Oliver Wyman, with KPGM, Deloitte, PwC and Ernst & Young, the Spanish banking system would need a maximum of €53.75 billion in the worst case scenario. 4 banking groups would concentrate 86% of these additional funds. In total, 7 banking groups would need additional funds, while 7 groups would be strong enough, with their own resources, to resist a hypothetical scenario with a 6.5% recession between 2012 and 2014, 27% unemployment, a 85% drop in land prices and a 55% decrease in housing prices.