July 18, 2016 / 4:55 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-German and French firms take biggest share of ECB credit splurge

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By Francesco Canepa

FRANKFURT, July 18 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank snapped up debt of blue-chip names such as BMW, Sanofi and BASF as Germany and France accounted for the lion’s share of its first batch of corporate bond purchases.

The ECB has bought 10 billion euros worth of corporate bonds since June 8, data showed on Monday. The purchases are part of its 80-billion-euros-a-month money-printing programme, aimed at spurring inflation and economic growth in the euro zone.

Germany’s Bundesbank and the Banque de France, two of the six banks executing the purchases, bought hundreds of bonds between them, compared to a few tens apiece for the central banks of Italy and Spain.

The banks did not disclose how much of each bond they had purchased. But the sheer length of the lists published by the German and French central banks suggested they were responsible for much of the buying.

This reflects the geographical distribution of the European credit market, which is largely concentrated in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

But it is also likely to provide ammunition to critics of the ECB’s corporate debt purchase programme, who say the bank is simply providing cheap credit to large companies already enjoying low borrowing costs.

The ECB is hoping its money will eventually trickle down to smaller borrowers across the euro zone for whom funding is still a problem, sources told Reuters earlier this year.

The Bundesbank bought several bonds issued by BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen but also snapped up debt of family-owned car parts maker Hella.

French oil major Total, food giant Danone and pharmaceuticals group Sanofi are among the issuers whose bonds were bought by the Banque de France.

National central banks published lists of the bonds they had bought and which can be lent on for the first time on Monday.

They can buy bonds directly from issuers or on the secondary market. Market purchases accounted for 96 percent of the total in June. (Reporting By Francesco Canepa)

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