Moody's cut credit rating

Spain defiant

GMT 10:05 2012 Monday ,21 May

Arab Today, arab today Spain defiant

Economy Minister Luis de Guindos
Madrid - AFP

Economy Minister Luis de Guindos Madrid - AFP Spain denied Monday it needs any foreign help for its banks, which are staggering under the mass of loans that turned sour after a 2008 property crash. "No external help of any kind is needed," Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told reporters at a forum in Madrid. Just 10 days earlier, the government instructed banks to set aside an extra 30 billion euros ($38 billion) in 2012 in case property-related loans go bad. That was on top of 53.8 billion euros in provisions required under reforms enacted in February. As part of the latest reform, Madrid will also name two independent auditing firms on Monday to reveal the full extent of the banks' exposure to the collapsed real estate sector. The results of the audit should be out in a month, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told reporters at the weekend on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Chicago. De Guindos confirmed that offers had been received from auditing firms and said an announcement would be made later Monday. The auditors would conduct bank stress tests for about one month, but a second more detailed study would take "a little longer", he said. "I am fairly confident that the valuations will not reveal further requirements," the minister said. De Guindos said the government was open to the independent auditors' conclusions but pointed to the effort already made by Madrid, which he expected to be confirmed by an IMF report due in a few days. The economy minister said Spain's fourth-largest bank, Bankia, which was nationalised this month to salvage its balance sheet, would need about 7.0-7.5 billion euros. That would mean injecting about another three billion euros in addition to 4.465 billion euros the state put into the bank during the takeover when it converted a loan to its parent group into shares. Bank of Spain figures show the commercial banks held problematic real estate assets, including loans and seized property, of 184 billion euros, 60 percent of their property portfolio at the end of 2011. Spanish banks reported doubtful loans had climbed to 147.968 billion euros in March, equal to an 18-year record 8.37 percent of the total, central bank data showed. Moody's Investors Service last week cut the credit ratings of 16 Spanish banks by one to three notches, citing the effects of recession and the Spanish government's own reduced creditworthiness.

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