CERNOBBIO, Italy, April 5 Italian banks would be
at a disadvantage if the European Central Bank (ECB) decides to
buy asset-backed securities as part of unconventional measures
aimed at staving off deflation risks, the chief executive of
UniCredit said on Saturday.
ECB President Mario Draghi said on Thursday the central bank
had unanimously agreed that asset purchases, also known as
quantitative easing, might be needed if inflation proves
The ECB has yet to discuss details of how it could carry out
any quantitative easing, ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio
said on Friday.
Purchases of asset-backed securities are regarded as one of
the possibilities. But UniCredit CEO Federico Ghizzoni said that
if this was the case, Italian banks would not have assets that
are "easily purchasable" by the ECB.
"One of the problems is that there are several credit lines
for which there is no standard documentation, or sometimes none
at all, especially when it comes to short-term credit," the head
of Italy's biggest bank by assets said.
The bulk of Italian bank lending has a short-term maturity,
he told journalists on the sidelines of a business conference.
In Italy, a widespread form of bank lending to small
businesses is through an overdraft on their bank accounts.
The lack of standard documents for a loan of this type would
make it hard for banks to securitise it, or use it as collateral
to issue a debt security.
(Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by David Holmes)