Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Saturday to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros ($125 billion) to shore up its teetering banks and Madrid said it would specify precisely how much it needs once independent audits report in just over a week.
After a 2-1/2-hour conference call of the 17 finance ministers, which several sources described as heated, the Eurogroup and Madrid said the amount of the bailout would be sufficiently large to banish any doubts.
“The loan amount must cover estimated capital requirements with an additional safety margin, estimated as summing up to 100 billion euros in total,” a Eurogroup statement said.
Spain said it wanted aid for its banks but would not specify the precise amount until two independent consultancies – Oliver Wyman and Roland Berger – deliver their assessment of the banking sector’s capital needs some time before June 21.
“The Spanish government declares its intention to request European financing for the recapitalisation of the Spanish banks that need it,” Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told a news conference in Madrid.
He said the amounts needed would be manageable, and that the funds requested would amply cover any needs.
A bailout for Spain’s banks, beset by bad debts since a property bubble burst, would make it the fourth country to seek assistance since Europe’s debt crisis began. With the rescue of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and now Spain, the EU and IMF have now committed around 500 billion euros to finance European bailouts.