When the Bank of Portugal announced the €4.9 billion bailout raised to “save” BES’ healthy assets from the toxic variety last August, critics railed at the potential folly of it all – claiming no bank would be interested in the emerging Novo Banco. But now, just four months on, we are being told no less than 17 banks are vying for its purchase.
Intriguingly, the news comes from the Bank of Portugal itself, which goes on to “not reveal the full list of candidates”.
For now, all newspapers are being told officially is that banks BPI, Santander and Popular are in the running, as well as the Chinese multinational Fosun, the American investment group Apollo Global Management and an association of national citizens going by the unlikely initials of ANANOB.
Completely ignoring Boxing Day’s news that Goldman Sachs is prepared to go to court to ensure Novo Banco honours €583 million of debts hidden under the carpet by the Bank of Portugal (see: https://www.portugalresident.com/novo-banco-in-eye-of-new-%E2%82%AC580-million-storm) the government has pronounced itself “delighted” by the “elevated number of potential buyers”, reports DinheiroVivo website.
According to spokesperson Luís Marques Guedes, “the existence of various interested parties is a sign of the good health of the financial system”.
But as president of Portugal’s Angolan-owned BIC bank Mira Amaral commented – using a well-worn Portuguese proverb that loosely translates as “when numbers are large, people smell a rat”.
Talking to TSF radio news, Amaral said it was far too early to start popping the champagne, and that the news of so many interested parties “could mean very little”.
As is well-documented, Novo Banco cost a record €4.9 billion to rescue from the BES collapse – €3.9 billion of which was effectively lent by the State. Thus for Portugal’s banks – ergo economy – to emerge unscathed, Novo Banco has to be sold for the money ploughed into it.
Mira Amaral told TSF that despite Novo Banco being “a good asset”, he doubted whether it can be sold for €4.9 billion.