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Europe Bank Cleanup Driving $1.72 Trillion of Asset Sales

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Nicholas Comfort
August 26, 2014

Europe’s largest banks are finally putting hundreds of billions of dollars of unwanted assets up for sale amid mounting competition among buyers and regulatory pressure. A wave of deals could be a boon to the region’s economy if the banks free up capital to increase lending.

Banks led by London-based Barclays Plc (BARC) and including UniCredit SpA in Milan and Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) in Zurich have shunted more businesses, bad loans and spoiled investments into units to be sold or wound down. Such assets jumped by 65 percent since the end of 2013, to more than $1.72 trillion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The list of deals coming in across the asset classes and markets at this point is higher than it’s ever been,” said Jody Gunderson, a senior managing director at CarVal Investors LLC in Minneapolis. Banks are “driven by regulatory considerations to sell, but also market pressures for them to get back to the business of trying to produce good profits.”

Tougher capital rules have made some once-lucrative bond businesses less attractive, while regulatory scrutiny has pushed lenders to admit that soured loans won’t be repaid. Selling bad debts and underperforming operations frees up funds firms can use to increase lending. That’s important for European economies stuck in the doldrums six years after a credit squeeze and a raft of bank bailouts spilled over into a sovereign-debt crisis.

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This article was posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 7:48 am

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