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9/11

Portugal a contagion fear - or maybe not

Friday, Jul 11, 2014 - 02:12

Banco Espirito Santo and the Bank of Portugal move to calm markets with reassurances over the amount of capital held by BES, leaving investors wondering whether its problems will usher in the next round of the euro zone crisis. David Pollard reports

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There's nothing to worry about. Portugal's central bank and BES - that's Banco Espirito Santo, the bank at the centre of the latest euro zone debt scare - have both moved to comfort investors with that message. The Bank of Portugal said it had been reassured that BES had sufficient capital - and that BES depositors ''can be calm''. While, separately, BES insisted it has around twice the capital needed to cover its current exposures. But many investors are still on high alert, says Joe Rundle of ETX Capital. SOUNDBITE (English) JOE RUNDLE, HEAD OF TRADING, ETX CAPITAL, SAYING: ''I think there is real possibility that this gets out of control.'' BES has been under scrutiny for weeks. That's after reporting what it called ''material irregularities'' at a holding company of the Espirito Santo family, which founded the bank. A restructuring plan is still in the pipeline from them. Until that comes, the full extent of the bank's potential losses won't be known. Dominic Elliot of Reuters Breakingviews. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DOMINIC ELLIOT, COLUMNIST, REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS, SAYING: ''This is a Luxembourg-based holding company, if you like, and then there's lots of, it's a big network of other companies with various assets, a lot of whom have been lent money by the bank. And so there's this tangled web and until there's full disclosure from these other bits, we're not going to know what's wrong.'' Market volatility prompted Banco Popular to call off a 750 million euro bond issue. And there are concerns about the possible impact of the scare on Portugal Telecom - it holds 900 million euros of debt issued by the Espirito Santo group. The news has sent ripples through global stock markets this week. Sovereign debt markets, though, remain relatively calm. Peter Chatwell of Credit Agricole CIB. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) PETER CHATWELL, INTEREST RATES STRATEGIST, CREDIT AGRICOLE CIB, SAYING: ''More investors will look to reduce their exposure, but I think that the trade we've seen so far, they will invest elsewhere in the periphery, so I think that in terms of this becoming some big peripheral contagion story, I'm not sure that that's going to happen.'' Further details of BES's financial situation are due in two week's time, when it releases its half-year results. Plenty of time for markets to ponder whether this really is another euro zone debt crisis, or not.

Portugal a contagion fear - or maybe not

Friday, Jul 11, 2014 - 02:12

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