New euro zone bank watchdog won't change accounting standards

FRANKFURT Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:00am EST

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FRANKFURT Feb 19 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank sought to reassure banks on Wednesday that reporting standards would not change once it took over banking supervision in November.

Bankers were worried that smaller banks in particular, which will not come under direct ECB oversight, would be pushed to adopt international accounting standards, adding to their workloads and possibly forcing them to revalue exposures for certain asset classes.

They raised those concerns at a public hearing on a draft of rules for the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM).

"One has to keep in mind as a general thought that the SSM does not have either the will or the possibility to change laws or to change accounting standards," said Ignazio Angeloni, head of the ECB's financial stability department.

The ECB will supervise the euro zone's 130 largest banks directly. It will technically be responsible for all the region's lenders and can intervene if it deems necessary.

One of the attendees of the hearing, which included representatives from the banking industry, law firms and academia, said afterwards some concerns remained unresolved if smaller banks provided data under German or French accounting rules, for example.

"The problem of consistency would emerge," said the person, who declined to be identified. "Risk analysis must be done based on comparable figures."

The framework regulation for the SSM will give the new supervisory body wide-ranging powers, including the right to approve mergers and acquisitions and to demand higher capital buffers.

(Reporting by Eva Taylor and Jonathan Gould; Editing by Larry King)

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