Public bank closes 2011 in the red

For the first time in its history, Portugal’s state-owned bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos closed 2011 nearly €500 million in the red.

Presenting its financial results on Friday, the national bank, one of the largest on the Iberian Peninsula, presented a net liquid result of -€488.4 million, bringing the total losses for the entire banking sector in 2011 to €1.587 billion.

CGD was the last major Portuguese bank to publish its annual accounts after news had already filtered through last week that the nation’s private banks had completely recovered their €1 billion losses for 2011 in last week’s trading windfall on the stock market.

But unlike the losses sustained in the private sector in 2011, CGD did not sustain a negative result because it had invested heavily in Greek bonds.

Rather it was the bank’s capital dealings with Portugal’s largest companies, such as Portugal Telecom, largely public owned BCP, Zon and Brisa, which had generated losses of €613 million on the bank’s annual account sheet.

It also suffered a wave of credit defaults because of its lending exposure to Portuguese SMEs, many of which either went bankrupt or are close to it.

“These losses will not endanger our position or that of our depositors,” said the bank’s executive president, José de Matos on Friday.

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