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Portuguese bond yields fall after financial turmoil caused by leading private bank

English.news.cn   2014-07-17 08:02:47

LISBON, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Portuguese bond yields fell on Wednesday, an optimistic sign of investors' confidence despite the country recently being hit by financial turmoil caused by Portugal's leading private bank Banco Espirito Santo (BES) which covered its financial hole.

Portugal emitted Wednesday 1.25 billion euros in six and 12-month treasury bonds, according to national debt agency IGCP, with the average interest rates on short-term bonds at 0.243 percent and 0.453 percent on long-term bonds.

Earlier this week European stocks stumbled after it emerged that the bank's overall holding company, Espirito Santo International (ESI) was covering a hole of at least 1 billion euros in its accounts.

The BES bank's shares had their worst day of the year and its only banking dynasty lost control of the bank, with the family selling a fifth of its 25 percent stake on Monday and its chief executive Ricardo Salgado, the great-grandson of the banks' founder, stepping down.

Amilcar Morais Pires, former chief financial officer at BES, was expected to be Salgado's successor but on Tuesday he also abandoned the bank.

The European Markets are now benefitting from easing tensions in Portugal after the bank assured it has enough financial reserves of more than 2 billion euros to deal with negative fallout.

Last Friday Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho told holders they could trust the bank and said he had no doubts regarding the Portuguese financial system's "tranquillity", adding that tax-payers would not have to bear the losses of private companies.

The bank's new chief executive, Vitor Bento, on Tuesday promised the start of a "new chapter," vowing to "recapture the confidence of the markets," in a note sent to his 10,000 employees.

Carlos Costa, director of the Bank of Portugal, the country's central bank, also reassured investors that they wouldn't have to bear the bank's troubles.

"If any additional capital is necessary, because of risks which in this current moment are not visible, there are for sure shareholders interested in participating in BES'capital increase," he told national broadcaster TVI.

The crisis, however, is likely to have tanished Portugal's image, after the country emerged in May from a 78-billion-euro bailout it had signed with its international lenders in 2011.

Analysts still warn that the Portuguese market is now more vulnerable and point to a lack of transparency.

"Investors are rightly concerned as to how issues at BES may impact not only the bank, but also the sector and indeed the wider Portuguese economy as a whole, but let's face it, this is nothing new," Joao Monteiro, Valutrades analyst, told Xinhua, adding that the same group was approaching default in 2008, which was averted following aggressive interventions.

He adds: "The real concern this time round is the genuine lack of transparency."

He said the best solution for the market would be either taxpayer intervention or for the bank to be nationalized."Whether this is possible is a different matter altogether," he said.

Economist Joao Cantiga Esteves told Xinhua: "This problem could have been solved weeks ago, but it seems they are now on the right track and what is most important now is to assure that such an important bank finds balance."

"Investors are worried, they took too long to find a solution and to take measures for a new administration. They could have speeded up themselves rather than waiting for the Central Bank to organize the reshuffle."

The Bank of Portugal has maintained that the bank's solvency is solid after having been reinforced with a recent capital increase, Cantiga Esteves said, adding it is important for the Central Bank to continue its efforts to isolate the bank from the Espirito Santo family.

"The Central Bank has been for some time trying to assure that the bank is immune and isn't affected by the Espirito Santo family, and took the necessary measures. It is now important to maintain that," he said.

The BES has a shareholder meeting scheduled for July 31 to confirm the new appointments.

Editor: Fu Peng
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