European banks 'facing $122bn bond refinancing test'

2 August 2010

Banks in Europe's most-indebted countries will have to refinance $122 billion worth of bonds by the end of this year.

According to research carried out by Bloomberg, Italian banks need to refinance $69 billion in 2010, with a requirement to do so with $157 billion worth of bonds in 2011.

In Spain $28 billion needs to be paid this year, along with $73 billion in the following 12 months.

Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo has the most amount of debt due at $28 billion, while UniCredit is in second position with $21 billion.

Despite the general success of the majority of the banks that featured in the recent Europe-wide public stress tests, meeting these financial requirements is another large challenge for the affected financial institutions.

Peter Chatwell, a fixed-income strategist at Credit Agricole, said: "There is still a strong cloud of pessimism hanging over the markets.

"Getting that funding done will be as good a test as the stress tests were."

In the most-economically troubled nations in Europe - Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain - 24 lenders will be required to refinance a total of $271 billion worth of debt in 2011 and a further $230 billion the year after that.

However, Edward Stevenson, head of European financial debt at BNP Paribas, said the recent stress tests, combined with the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision proposing lighter capital rules for global financial companies, has improved the market's outlook.

"Sentiment is much more positive, even toward some of the more difficult names like the Irish or Spanish banks," he stated.

The stress tests failed seven of the 91 firms which were examined, including five Spanish savings banks, Agricultural Bank of Greece and Germany's Hypo Real Estate Holding.

Under its rules, any company was deemed to pass if it was judged to have the resources to maintain a tier one capital level of six per cent in the event of a recession and sovereign debt crisis occurring.

By Claire Archer

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