June 25, 2013 / 1:11 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Elderly savers boo Bankia chairman at shareholder meeting

* Hundreds of shareholders protest at annual meeting

* Chairman booed by small savers as reads out speech

* Bankia reaffirms profit target despite tough environment (Adds chairman speech, details)

By Jesús Aguado

VALENCIA, June 25 (Reuters) - Small-time investors who lost money after the euro zone bailed out Spain’s Bankia last year booed the lender’s leaders on Tuesday, rejecting assurances at a shareholders’ meeting that the worst was over.

Bankia had to be rescued barely a year after a stock market listing campaign that had targeted ordinary Spaniards.

Investors who hired buses to the meeting in Valencia, eastern Spain, waved placards outside the venue reading “No to financial fraud!” and chanted “Hands up! Bankia is a robbery!”

Inside the venue, a grand steel and glass conference centre whose auditoria can hold over 2,000 people, elderly savers booed Chairman Jose Ignacio Goirigolzarri as he reiterated the bank’s aim to post a 800 million euro ($1.05 billion) profit for 2013 after an extensive balance sheet clean-up.

The government had pitched Bankia’s public offering as the solution to Spain’s banking ills when it was listed in 2011.

But hundreds of thousands of small investors lost their money when near-collapse forced Spain to seek European funds to rescue its banking system. Bankia received 18 billion euros ($24 billion) of the 42 billion euros in May.

Another 300,000 people are still trying to calculate their losses after buying complex products that many say were sold to them as a form of high-interest savings account.

The hybrid debt and preference shares they bought from former savings banks that were later merged to form Bankia were swapped last month for ordinary shares at an average discount of 38 percent in an attempt to help them recoup some of their losses.

But these new shares have since tumbled by more than 50 percent and some analysts believe they could fall another 25 percent from the 0.58 euros per share they were trading at on Tuesday.


Many investors are suspicious of an arbitration process that the government set up to help some of them get money back if they can prove the bank did not properly explain the risk.

“I‘m not going to take part in the arbitration process because it’s a fiddle,” said 69-year-old pensioner Francisco Dominguez. He said he lost 38,000 euros in preference shares and would seek justice through the courts.

Another 67-year-old pensioner protesting outside the meeting, Primitivo Arias-Fernandez, said he had lost most of the 24,000 euros he had invested in preference shares.

“Suddenly I‘m a forced shareholder because they’ve converted those into ordinary shares,” he said. His local bank branch had told him these shares were now worth just 400 euros, he said.

While Bankia has sold assets, closed branches and returned to profit in the first quarter, Spain’s banks are still struggling in an economy weighed down by debts from a long-bust housing boom and by government cost-cutting.

Bankia may also have to set aside more money to cover potential risks on its refinanced and restructured loans after the Bank of Spain published new, tougher rules on how banks should account for these portfolios in April.

However, Chairman Goirigolzarri said the bank’s review of those loans would show no need for additional capital after booking a core capital ratio - a key measure of a bank’s solvency - of 10 percent at the end of the first quarter, up from 9.5 percent at the end of December.

“This is key because it allows us to affirm that we have no additional capital needs at Bankia,” he said. ($1 = 0.7637 euros) (Writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Julien Toyer/Ruth Pitchford)

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