ECB says stress tests of 124 eurozone banks begin next month

ECB says stress tests of 124 eurozone banks begin next month

POSTED: 23 Oct 2013 19:45
The European Central Bank said on Wednesday it will start next month to “stress-test” and examine the balance sheets of 124 eurozone banks in advance of assuming its supervisory role.

FRANKFURT: The European Central Bank said on Wednesday it will start next month to “stress-test” and examine the balance sheets of 124 eurozone banks in advance of assuming its supervisory role. “The assessment will commence in November 2013 and will take 12 months to complete,” the ECB said in a statement. It will be carried out together with national authorities and supported by an external consulting firm, it said. The “comprehensive assessment” will look at “key risks”, review the quality of bank assets and include “a stress test to examine the resilience of banks’ balance sheets to stress scenarios”. Aside from building transparency and taking any necessary corrective actions, the exercise aims at “confidence building” and “to assure all stakeholders that banks are fundamentally sound and trustworthy”. “A single comprehensive assessment, uniformly applied to all significant banks, accounting for about 85 percent of the euro area banking system, is an important step forward for Europe and for the future of the euro area economy,” ECB president Mario Draghi said in a statement. “Transparency will be its primary objective. We expect that this assessment will strengthen private sector confidence in the soundness of euro area banks and in the quality of their balance sheets.” This outcome will be published before the ECB assumes its supervisory role of eurozone banks in November 2014.

How sick are Europe’s banks? Wait and see

By Mark Thompson  @MarkThompsonCNN October 23, 2013: 10:01 AM ETLONDON (CNNMoney)

Five years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a lack of confidence in Europe’s banks is still acting as a brake on the region’s tentative recovery.

An ambitious health check announced Wednesday by the European Central Bank is the first serious attempt to tackle the problem, but it won’t produce results for at least a year, and could perversely make things worse before they get better.

European leaders agreed in 2012 to give the ECB responsibility for supervising the eurozone’s biggest lenders, the first step towards creating a banking union they hope will reduce the risk of future bank failures triggering sovereign debt crises.

Before it begins that task in late 2014, the ECB will review risks and asset quality at 128 banks across 18 countries, including major players such as Deutsche Bank (DB), Santander (SAN) and Unicredit (UNCFF), culminating in a series of stress tests next year.

Eurozone banks have raised 500 billion euros from investors and governments over the past five years, equivalent to about 5% of annual GDP. The ECB will have the power to order banks to raise more cash if deemed necessary by the review.

Analysts said the scope of the tests was more extensive than expected, and European banking stocks fell. Banks in weaker eurozone economies such as Italy and Spain were under most pressure on concern the review will reveal new holes in their finances.

The eurozone emerged from a prolonged recession earlier this year. Yet growth remains anaemic, and lending and investment in some of countries hobbled by uncertainty over how much risk banks are carrying on their books.

Bailouts, austerity, economic reforms and ECB support have prevented the eurozone falling apart but economists believe a return to healthy growth will only happen once the cloud hanging over the banking sector is lifted.

ECB President Mario Draghi said transparency was the primary goal of the review, which will cover 85% of the eurozone’s banking assets.

“We expect that this assessment will strengthen private sector confidence in the soundness of euro area banks and in the quality of their balance sheets,” he said.

Analysts say the ECB will have to walk a fine line between making the health check tough enough to be credible to investors and depositors, and not so tough it prompts banks to rein in lending even further as the review drags on.

“Some major European banks may still have a reason to grant few new loans and hence incur new risks until sometime in 2015,” said Christian Schulz, senior economist at Berenberg bank.

And eurozone governments still have much more work to do if they’re to realize their goal of a banking union. There’s still no agreement on how to recapitalize weak banks if they’re unable to raise enough funds from the private sector, nor on common rules for winding up a failing bank.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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