Bank of Portugal pays €800,000 to “friend’s firm” to oversee Novo Banco sale

With the story broken by radio TSF and now doing the rounds of national media, it appears that the Bank of Portugal is once again in hot water over the sale of Novo Banco.

Not only has the bank agreed to pay €15 million to BNP Paribas to oversee the sale, it has now contracted the firm of a friend of the vice-governor for the very same reason.

London-based TC Capital is a ‘new’ company, reveals the station. It is run by Phillipe Sacerdot, who used to work with BdP’s António Varela when the two worked for investment bank UBS.

According to TSF, the latest deal – awarded directly, with no other contenders considered – will give TC Capital as much as €800,000 for ten months work.

According to TSF, the arrangement has “not gone down well” with the technical team preparing the sale, “more for the fact that TC Capital is a one-man business”.

Another point of controversy is that the news was picked up from a website trumpeted as promoting transparency in the business transactions of public companies.

Yet, as TSF pointed out, the name Novo Banco did not even get a mention.

“External Senior Assessor for Project Hermes” was the way the contract was presented.

It was only when TSF quizzed the Bank of Portugal that the latter confirmed that “Project Hermes” was the codename for the sale of Novo Banco.

Regarding “transparency”, Negocios online confirms that BNP Paribas also “clinched” its €15 million deal “directly” – i.e with no other potential assessors vying for the contract.

Intriguing too is the fact that BNP Paribas is meant to be leading the sale. Thus why TC Capital is needed “to participate in the process” to the tune of €30,000 a month with a €500,000 bonus of all goes well, is something of a mystery.
Who signed the deal was Varela himself, reports TSF, alongside fellow vice-governor José Berberan Ramalho.

As TSF covered the news, it reported that it was not possible to get a reaction from the Bank of Portugal.

Meantime, negoçios online confirms that the Portuguese government “wants to conclude the sale of Novo Banco by the summer.”

The process of “due diligence” is already underway in which “the five candidate buyers” – US funds Cerberus and Apollo, Chinese companies Anbang and Fosun, and Spain’s Santander bank – “try to obtain more information on the bank” that rose from the ashes of BES last year.

Novo Banco was capitalised with €4.9 billion euros in the summer of 2014, €3.9 billion of which was “borrowed” from the State treasury, writes the site.

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