| MADRID, April 19
MADRID, April 19 Spanish banks may need to set
aside more money to cover exposure to a bust property market
because they still have to recognise billions of euros in loans
to non-viable companies, said a report by Spanish property
consultancy RR de Acuna.
Spain has ordered its battered banking sector to reinforce
balance sheets as a correction in the housing market continues
and the central bank forecasts lenders will need some 53.8
billion euros ($70.7 billion) to cushion against bad debt.
But Thursday's report said that may not be enough.
"Banks are not recognising all of their risk. Many of their
debtors are property companies with negative equity who can't
even pay the interest on their debt," Fernando R. Rodriguez de
Acuna, chairman of the consultancy, told Reuters by telephone.
There are at least 21,000 "zombie companies" in Spain that
owe banks 126 billion euros, Rodriguez said, basing his
estimates on recent data from Spanish mercantile records.
He said the banks were covered for only 67.5 percent of that
risk, leaving 40 billion euros of exposure if all the companies
filed for bankruptcy.
The fate of the banks is being watched by international
investors who fear Spain may be forced to apply for aid as the
euro zone debt crisis enters its third year.
Spanish banks are carrying their biggest burden of bad loans
since 1994, according to data on Wednesday that fuelled doubts
as to whether the country's ailing lenders can survive without
RR de Acuna's study includes loans for property assets to
businesses that are not registered as real estate companies.
Many Spanish banks have refinanced property sector debt in
exchange for assets, but many of the assets are now worth less
than the money owed on them.
Spain's banking association AEB called RR de Acuna's
($1 = 0.7621 euro)
(Writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by David Hulmes)