| LONDON, July 8
LONDON, July 8 The European Central Bank (ECB)
is considering hiring separate consultants to test the quality
of banks' assets in each of the 17 eurozone countries, along
with a project manager to co-ordinate the effort from Frankfurt,
sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The consultants are being brought on board because the ECB
does not yet have the internal resources to carry out all the
work itself, one of the sources said. The ECB declined to
ECB governing council member Yves Mersch said on June 26
that the central bank would hire more than 1,000 staff when it
takes over supervisory powers for the eurozone's banks next
But the ECB's "asset quality review" will be carried out
before the central bank assumes its supervisory powers and
before the majority of the staff are hired. Mersch also said
consultants would do some of the work.
A source told Reuters that the ECB was considering using
separate consultants in each of the eurozone countries, with all
of the consultants channelling their information to a hub in
The ECB is also considering hiring consultants to help
manage the project from Frankfurt, another source said. Final
decisions on the consultancy tenders may not be made until the
ECB appoints a supervisory board for the single eurozone
regulator, which may not happen until September.
The project, which encompasses 150 banks, is seen as being
too large for a single consultant to take on, since the work
will have to be completed in a matter of months.
The outcome of the ECB asset quality reviews will feed into
the next round of pan-European banking stress tests, which will
be carried out by the European Banking Authority in mid 2014 for
all 27 EU countries.
The latest contracts will mark a boon for a consultancy
industry that has already been paid tens of millions of euros
for carrying out reviews of troubled banking sectors across
Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland.
Consultants who have already worked on European banking
sector reviews include U.S.-based BlackRock, which
carried out stress tests in Ireland and Greece, Pimco, which did
due diligence work on the portfolios of Cyprus's banks, and
Oliver Wyman, which carried out stress tests in Spain.