“Spain’s financial system is now the most transparent in Europe”

By Fernando Rodríguez, in Madrid | Claudio Aguirre, board member at the Spanish bank Bankia confirmed in an interview with Consejeros magazine that the group intends to maintain its independence. Although the entity’s capital needs amount to about €9 billion, Aguirre says that being in a merger, Bankia could clean its balance sheet up against reserves, not only against income.

What is your opinion about the third phase of the financial reform? Will it be enough to reassure markets about the health of the Spanish financial system? I am convinced it will. No country in Europe has given as much information on the situation of the entities and their balance sheets and troubled assets, no one has been as transparent as we are. The reform is absolutely correct, even if some measures should have been taken earlier. The markets are able to access all information and trust will return.

How will the new framework affect the financial map in Spain? What would be the final scenario? Our map will change radically. After the restructuring process, by 2014 or 2015 there will be only twelve, fourteen entities, no more.

Will be there a sufficient level of competition, then? I think so. The big four have a share of 45%, Sabadell and Popular another 10-15%. The rest is divided among other entities.

Then there is the effect of financial reform on both the construction and real estate sectors, and on the credit flows to households and individuals. What is your view? The reform’s Royal Decree states that institutions must set aside a percentage of resources for businesses and families, although in the short-term I do not think this is enough. However, it is more than likely that as soon as write-downs occur, credit will be restored.

So it will not be until next year that credit recovers normal levels…
Yes, it will take time. But what is clear is that this reform will not succeed unless credit does return to the real economy.

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