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Spain

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Banking landscape

Spain, the European Union's fifth largest economy, has suffered badly from the global financial crisis as well as from the bursting of a home-grown property bubble, both of which have left the country in an enduring economic depression. By late 2012, unemployment in Spain hovered around the 25% level, with fully half of under 25 year olds out of work.

A prominent feature of the Spanish banking market is the presence of the cajas de ahorros, or savings banks (‘cajas'), which first appeared in the early part of the 19th century, and which are typically closely linked to their territory of origin. These mutually-owned institutions were mandated to finance development in their communities, and traditionally held strong reputations. However it was these local banks which played a key role in financing the unsustainable housing boom which began in 1997. By the time this bubble ended in 2008, many of the cajas were left with severely devalued assets, and a number of weaknesses were exposed in the regulatory framework governing the sector.

The result has been an unprecedented period of reorganisation of the Spanish banking sector, with the number of cajas being reduced from 45 to 11 through government interventions, mergers and takeovers. This included the creation in 2010 of Bankia, now Spain's fourth largest bank by asset value, through the merger of seven regional savings banks. Although created as a private bank, by May 2012 the bank required a significant injection of government capital, and a 45% stake in the institution was taken into public ownership.

Spain's biggest three largest banks by assets, Banco Santander, BBVA and La Caixa, are generally considered to be in a better position than the remaining cajas and the ailing Bankia, after a major audit of debts showed they would be unlikely to require recapitalisation. In addition, Santander and BBVA in particular are significant global players, with operations in the Americas and elsewhere in Europe which will help to compensate these banks for the negative impact of Spain's economic problems.

Bank regulation

The Spanish financial sector is supervised by two distinct entities. The Banco de España (Bank of Spain) is the national central bank and supervisor of the Spanish banking system. Its activity is regulated by the Law of Autonomy of the Banco de España. Its responsibilities include financial regulation and supervision, the regular monitoring of the Spanish, Eurozone and world economies, the evaluation of economic policies and the issuing of banknotes.

The Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV, or National Securities Market Commission) is the government agency in charge of supervising and inspecting the Spanish stock markets and the activities of all the participants in those markets. The purpose of the CNMV is to ensure the stability and transparency of the financial markets and to protect investors.

Government policy on bank reform

The Spanish banking crisis has prompted a major restructuring of the banking sector, which has included the consolidation of the cajas, as well as the reform of the legal frameworks governing them, including strengthening of conflict-of-interest rules and governance requirements.

In June of 2012 Spain requested €100bn in European aid to recapitalise its banks, although an independent audit of toxic assets later the same year concluded that a rescue package of only €53.75 billion would be necessary. Almost half of this figure will go to Bankia SA alone, with Novagalicia Banco, Catalunya Bank and Banco de Valencia requiring a total of €21 billion.

In order to further address the problems of the sector, the Spanish government established in November 2012 a so-called ‘bad bank', known by the acronym Sareb (Sociedad de Gestión de Activos Procedentes de la Reestructuración Bancaria, S. A., or ‘Society for the management of assets proceeding from the reconstruction of the Banking System'). The state-owned bank will take toxic assets off the banks' balance sheets, hopefully leading to a resurgence in lending among the banking sector as a whole.

Independent sustainability and reform initiatives

BankTrack partner SETEM has established the Finanzas Eticas website (Spanish only) to promote ethical banks, credit unions and other ethical finance institutions in Spain, including Triodos, Coop57 and Fiare.

The Banca Armada project tracks the value of Spanish banks' investments in the arms industry, and aims to ‘inform and sensitize society to demand that Spanish financial institutions to change their policies and end all relations with socially irresponsible companies'.

Spain

Population: 47.2 million (2011)

GDP: 1.49 trillion USD (2011)


working partners
Bankia
Bankia is a Spanish banking conglomerate that was formed in December 2010, consolidating the operations of seven regional savings banks: Caja Madrid, Bancaja, La Caja de…
BBVA
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), is a multinational Spanish banking group. It was formed in 1999 from a merger of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya and Argentaria. It provides financial…
Santander
Banco Santandar S.A., founded in 1857 in Santander, Spain. The group has expanded since 2000 through a number of acquisitions, with operations across Europe, Latin America,…

Spain

Population: 47.2 million (2011)

GDP: 1.49 trillion USD (2011)


working partners
Dodgy Deals abroad financed by banks from Spain
Mountain top removal coal mining
United States
co financed by BBVA, Santander
Mountain top removal (MTR) mining is a form of strip mining in which coal companies use explosives to blast as much as 800 to 1,000 feet off the tops of mountains order to…
Offshore Detention Centres
Australia
co financed by Banco de Sabadell, Banco Popular Espanol, Bankinter SA, BBVA, Instituto de Credito Oficial, Santander
Australia's system of privatised, offshore detention centres (ODCs) for asylum seekers, on remote Pacific islands, is an ongoing human rights catastrophe. Spanish company…
SOCAR Aegean Refinery
Turkey
co financed by Banco Popular Espanol, BBVA, Compañia Española de Seguros de Crédito a la Exportación, SA (CESCE), la Caixa, Santander
The owner and operator of the Aegean Refinery is STAR Rafineri A.S. ("STAR") a joint stock company incorporated under the laws of Turkey. The joint venture is now 81.5% owned…
Great Barrier Reef Coal & Gas Exports
Australia
co financed by Santander
Australia is on the verge of an unprecedented coal boom. The epicentre of this expansion is the yet-to-be-developed Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. Galilee is the proposed…
Jaitapur nuclear power plant
India
co financed by Santander
The Jaitapur project plans to host two European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) of 1,650 MWe each, with possible extension by four additional units. The Generation III+ class…
Punta Catalina-Hatillo coal power project
Dominican Republic
co financed by Santander
Punta Catalina Power Central, also known as the Hatillo power station, is a 770 megawatt coal-fired power plant under construction in Punta Catalina-Hatillo, Azua in the…
check dodgy deals on record

Spain

Population: 47.2 million (2011)

GDP: 1.49 trillion USD (2011)


working partners
Companies abroad financed by banks from Spain
Anglo American
United Kingdom
co financed by BBVA, Santander
Anglo American is a British multinational mining company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's largest producer of platinum, with around 40% of world…
Arch Coal
United States
co financed by BBVA, Santander
Arch Coal is an American coal mining and processing company. The company mines, processes, and markets bituminous and sub-bituminous coal with low sulfur content in the United…
Areva
France
co financed by BBVA, Santander
Created in 2001 and 90% owned by the French state, this multinational conglomerate boasts of interests in every aspect of nuclear power from uranium mining to nuclear fuel…
BHP Billiton
Australia
co financed by BBVA, Santander
BHP Billiton is the world's largest mining company. It occupies significant positions in major commodity businesses, including aluminium, energy coal and metallurgical coal,…
Drummond
United States
co financed by BBVA
Drummond Company Inc. is a coal mining company based in Birmingham, Alabama, United States, with operations in Alabama and in La Loma, Colombia. It controls coal reserves…
EDF
France
co financed by BBVA
Like its rival and fellow French multinational AREVA, Électricité de France (EDF) is one of the biggest players in the global energy game. In fact, with more…
Eletrobras
Brazil
co financed by BBVA, Caja Madrid, Santander
Founded in 1962, Eletrobras is an electric power holding company and the largest electricity generation and transmission company in Brazil. Through its subsidiaries it owns…
Enel
Italy
co financed by BBVA, Caja Madrid, la Caixa, Santander
Enel is Italy's largest power company and Europe's second largest according to its generating capacity. Its interests stretch beyond Italy to 40 countries on four continents.…
ENGIE
France
co financed by BBVA, Santander
ENGIE (known as GDF SUEZ until April 2015) is the largest independent power producer in the world. In 2013 it operated 600 power plants worldwide. It had 113.7 GW of installed…
Glencore
Switzerland
co financed by BBVA, la Caixa, Santander
Glencore plc (formerly Glencore Xstrata) is an Anglo-Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company. The company was created through a merger of Glencore with Xstrata…
Rio Tinto
Australia
co financed by BBVA, Santander
Rio Tinto is a mining and exploration company involved in each stage of metal and mineral production and processing. Rio Tinto is one of the largest publicly listed mining…
RWE
Germany
co financed by BBVA, Caja Madrid, Santander
RWE is Europe's second largest electricity generator and one of Europe's five leading gas and electricity companies. Founded in 1898, the company is active in the generation,…
Alpha Natural Resources
United States
co financed by Santander
Alpha Natural Resources is a large American producer of metallurgical and thermal coal. It also provides services relating to equipment repairs, road construction and logistics…
APRIL
Indonesia
co financed by Santander
Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited, or APRIL, is Indonesia's second largest pulp and paper producer. It develops fibre plantations and it is the owner…
check company profiles on record

Spain

Population: 47.2 million (2011)

GDP: 1.49 trillion USD (2011)


working partners
2012

Spain

Population: 47.2 million (2011)

GDP: 1.49 trillion USD (2011)


working partners
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