Judging by the latest valuations which have appeared in the press, the balance of the first five years of Spain’s bad bank, Sareb, is little less than disastrous. But the bank’s performance has been praised by Brussels and by Germany, who have said it has completed its objective of stabilising the Spanish financial system.
Articles by Fernando Barciela
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Telefónica’s share price has made a strong recovery so far this year and is now trading around 10,3 euros, meaning it has gained no less than 31% from last year’s minimum levels. New executive chairman Jose María Álvarez-Pallete has played a big part in this comeback.
“We are in a situation where retired people’s pensions are bigger than the salaries paid to the people working in the jobs they left. Something has broken down. All the education and infrastructures we have created should be directed towards a society with decent salaries,” says Alejandro Legarda Zaragüeta, who knows the ins and outs of Spanish industry after 20 years as managing director of CAF.
Ailing department store chain El Corte Ingles lived splendidly before Amancio Ortega, Zara’s founder, began his rapid journey through the world of fashion retailing both at home and abroad. Galicia’s Inditex group has not stopped growing in sales and store openings.
The latest figures have again confirmed what we have been seeing in the last few quarters: Spain is not only not losing industry at the moment, but in fact this is recovering very fast. In January, for example, Spanish industry’s revenues rose 13.1% from a year earlier, the biggest increase since April 2008.
The certainty that we are on the threshold of a phase of consistent interest rate rises – the Fed could implement two or three further hikes this year – is spurring the European banks to endow themselves with liquidity from the ECB, at low prices.
Over the last few weeks, Spanish businessmen’s concern has increased over the fact Spanish ports are becoming less effective due to the stevedore’s work-to-rule. According to business sources, currently it’s taking almost twice the amount of time to arrange a ship’s entrance into port, which also has direct consequences on the transport service.
There are still opportunities in office buildings but investors need to be very selective. And it’s important to add value to the property, for example through refurbishment, according to Eduardo Fernández-Cuesta who worked for 25 years in CBRE.
The eternal debate as to whether Spain has a quality democracy, with a level of legal security on a par with Europe, has recently become topical again following the courts’ decisions in the cases of Urdangarin and the “black” credit cards. Weeks before legal security also appeared because of the courts’ ruling related to the floor clauses.
Companies have to make an effort to generate quality jobs so the recovery in confidence and consumption ends up being consolidated, says Mutua Madrileña chairman Ignacio Garralda.