The European Commission has concluded that restructuring aid granted by Spain to UNNIM Banc SAU (UNNIM) in the context of the sale of its banking activities to Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) is in line with EU state aid rules.
The Commission found that UNNIM’s restructuring plan adequately addresses the structural problems that led to the bail-out of the bank, whilst avoiding undue distortions of competition.
Joaquín Almunia, Vice-president of the European Commission in charge of competition policy said, “The sale of UNNIM to BBVA adequately addresses the various problems recently faced by UNNIM in a difficult economic context. It will restore its long-term viability and thus contribute to the strengthening of the Spanish banking sector as a whole.”
Through a competitive tender process, BBVA acquired UNNIM on 7 March 2012. UNNIM will be integrated into BBVA and will cease to exist as an independent bank. UNNIM’s branch network will be significantly restructured and integrated within BBVA’s branch network.
In the context of the sale of UNNIM to BBVA and in addition to the public support previously granted to UNNIM by the FROB (see IP/11/1143), the Deposit Guarantee Fund (DGF) granted a guarantee in the form of a loss protection over certain impaired assets of UNNIM. This guarantee covers 80% of the losses not covered by UNNIM’s provisions of €1.33 billion. The Commission has estimated the state aid contained in this measure to be €2.869 billion.
The Commission’s investigation found that the complete exit of UNNIM from the market as a stand-alone bank, the sale of its banking business in an open and competitive tender to a viable institution and the in-depth restructuring plan submitted by BBVA adequately address the Commission’s concerns. In particular, these measures will ensure the viability of the sold business without continued public support and address distortions of competition arising from the total aid amount granted to UNNIM of up to €3.817 billion.
UNNIM Banc holds the banking activities previously held by UNNIM, a savings bank formed by the integration of three separate savings banks, namely, Caixa Manlleu, Caixa Sabadell and Caixa Terrassa. UNNIM provides retail banking services mainly in the region of Catalonia. As a result of its sale to BBVA, UNNIM will cease to exist as a standalone savings bank. Its social and charitable missions will be carried out by an ad hoc foundation with no link to the business activities of BBVA.
UNNIM ran into financial difficulties in particular due to its significant exposure to real estate-related lending.
The FROB (see IP/10/70 and IP/10/997) provided UNNIM with two recapitalisation rescue measures: a first injection of €380 million in March 2010 and a second one of €538 million in March 2011.