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Caja Madrid said to ask for 3 billion euros of support
02 June 2010 @ 18:36

MADRID (MarketWatch) -- The stream of negative news from Spain's savings bank sector continued on Tuesday, with a report that the second largest player, Caja Madrid, will tap the government for 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) of rescue funds.

A spokesperson for Caja Madrid said the report that appeared in several Spanish newspapers saying it will ask for funds from the government's rescue fund was "speculation."

The savings bank said last Friday it was in talks to merge with several regional cajas -- Caja de Avila, Caja Insular de Canarias, Caixa Laietana, Caja Segovia and Caja Rioja.

More bad news emerged for Caja Madrid when Standard & Poor's placed its A/A-1 long and short-term ratings on the savings bank on CreditWatch negative, saying it expects "pronounced pressure" on its operating profit this year and into 2011.

The negative status reflects the possibility of lowering counterparty credit ratings on Caja Madrid, though S&P said any downgrade is unlikely to exceed one notch. It's standalone credit profile and its hybrid securities could suffer a downgrade by one or more notches, warned the ratings agency.

S&P said Caja Madrid, Spain's fourth-largest banking group by total assets, will be closely monitored over the next 18 months to evaluate the magnitude of expected deterioration.

Downgraded on Tuesday was Spanish bank Banco Sabadell, the nation's sixth-largest group by total assets.

Fitch Ratings, who downgraded Spanish sovereign debt last Friday, cut its long-term debt rating on Sabadell to A from A+.

Fitch also downgraded Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo's long-term debt to BBB+ from A- with a negative outlook, and Banco de Valencia and Bancaja each to BBB from BBB+ with stable outlooks.

Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo is Spain's only publicly traded savings bank. Those shares /quotes/comstock/06x!ccam (ES:CAM 5.94, +0.02, +0.34%) were down 0.2% in Madrid.

It wasn't all bad for Sabadell, whose shares were down 3.6% amid weaker Spanish and European markets overall from nearly the start of trading.

Fitch praised its "good domestic retail franchise, particularly with small to medium-sized enterprises, as well as its track record of sound pre-impairment operating profit, good cost efficiency and an improvement in regulatory capital."

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4 Comments

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