European states expand their presence in the rescued banks. More than a decade after the explosions of financial institutions in the Old Continent to avoid their bankruptcy, the horrible of the main economies of the region remain in the capital with shares that place them among the main shareholders. Spain, Italy or the United Kingdom are some of the countries that have extended their shareholding packages over time, with no indication that they will withdraw from the front line in the short term.
One of them is the Spanish State, which has already made clear its intention to continue leading CaixaBank as the second largest shareholder after its merger in 2020 with Bankia (where it controlled almost 62% through the FROB) for longer than originally planned. The term to sell the 17% that it has in its hands has been extended up to four times. The last extension was approved ‘in extremis’ at the end of last year for another three more years, until 2025, with the aim of “maximizing the recovery value” of this participation.
On the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy has been left alone as a relevant partner in Monte dei Paschi after AXA has taken a step back with the placement of 7.8% that it had in its portfolio after the capital increase to institutional investors. The Italian Treasury has a 64% stake since its nationalization in 2016, a procedure that was a real blow to the Italian State. Seven years later, among the priorities of Giorgia Meloni’s agenda at the head of the Executive is finding a potential buyer.
The bailout agreement involved tough negotiations with the European Commission and agreements with an iron fist. In this sense, one of the most tense has been Greece, which with three bailouts behind it, the last in 2015, is still present in the National Bank of Greece (40.3%), Piraeus Bank (27%) and Alpha Bank. (9%).
The UK also holds a prominent shareholding position in NatWest (formerly Royal Bank of Scotland). Despite the efforts of the British Treasury in recent months to make a move and reduce its weight, it still controls more than 40%, which is less than half of the 84% that it held before the injection of 45,000 million pounds ( around 51,000 million euros at current exchange rates) during the first years of the financial crisis.
Germany’s relationship with Commerzbank has gone through several ‘twigs and wars’. Although it began to sell part of its titles in 2013, it still has 15.6% in its portfolio. One of the reasons given for their reluctance to transfer them to a third party is their low price level compared to the moment they landed in the second largest bank in the German country.
In order not to lose money, the German state would need to place them at a price of 26 euros, something that seems difficult, since last Friday they closed at 11.7 euros. Analysts give this entity a twelve-month potential of barely 7.8% after its first week back on the German Dax in which it has risen by almost 9.5%. In fact, it is already the fastest-rising member of the main German stock index, up 32% so far this year. The decision to wait for better times to place them has its origin in the traumatic transfer of HSH Nordbank five years ago to a group of investors led by Cerberus for around 1,000 million, up to thirteen times less than what the arcana public germs paid in February 2009.
Belgium and the Netherlands, the other side of the rescues
In the other band of bailouts that prevented the financial collapse in Europe is Belgium, which sets the pattern to follow after a few days ago the Belgian federal government got rid of 2.7% of the titles it owned in BNP Paribas for 2,000 million , reduces its volume to 5.1%. This percentage is key, since although it allows him to be present in the direction of the French firm, it implies that he is no longer the main shareholder.
Its presence in the second European bank by volume of assets, according to Statista data, dates back to 2008, when it took over 10% through the partial sale of Fortis Banque. The first time it got rid of part of its assets was in 2017, the year in which it obtained 2,100 million from the sale of a quarter of its shares.
In this sense, the Netherlands, which also came to the aid of ABN Amro with an injection of more than 21,600 million euros, has been more active compared to other European partners when looking for a way to abandon the bank’s capital . In 2015 it began with the privatization, which took the IPO and, although it is still among its main owners, it has reduced its package to the current 6.7%.
Ireland, for its part, announced in September 2022 its complete departure from Bank of Ireland, where it came to have 13.9% with a capital gain of 2,000 million after entering 6,700 million after twelve years. However, it is still present in Permanent TSB (62.4%) and Allied Irish Bank (55.9%), where they plan to gradually reduce their stake. A process that indicates that it will be longer than desired.