Sunday, August 19, 2012

Spanish savers: government to the rescue?

Last week I wrote about the Spanish savers who are set to lose everything because they were sold preference shares in their banks which have subsequently gone bust - New fears over Spanish bank accounts.

I said that it was worrying that the government was not prepared to step in and help despite the fact that the policies were blatantly missold to the vast majority of retail investors who thought they were just deposits with lock in periods.

It seems like I may have jumped the gun and surprisingly underestimated the Spanish government on this one.  According to an article in the FT they are going to ensure that most small savers are repaid in some form.

The concession is complicated by the Memorandum of Understanding the Spanish government signed with the EU prior to receiving access to up to €100bn of bail out money for their financial institutions.  This envisages bank preference shareholders taking their losses in full and there are restrictions on what can be repaid e.g. no more than 10% more than the current market value of the shares.

Some of these shares trade at below 50% of face value so saver could still be taking a big hit.  However the outlook has definitely brightened for them and it slightly increases general confidence that the government will protect the retail depositor more generally whatever happens.  If it can afford to.

From the website:  Spanish tax form 210

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