Spain to get a new mega-bank

The Catalan Caixabank and Madrid Bankia have struck a deal to become the largest bank in the country. The Bank of Spain and the ECB have yet to approve the merger, which is effectively Caixabank taking over Bankia. The state would hold 16 percent of the shares in the newly created bank, as opposed to the more than 60 percent stake it currently has in Bankia. The Spanish press is less than enthusiastic about the move.

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This is not in the interest of customers is against the merger and calls for more state influence in the form of a public bank or larger state shares:

“The recent history of banking has seen the rise of unethical or abusive practices against the interests of customers (such as preferential interest rates, land clauses, mortgage charges, manipulation of reference interest rates, etc.). ... It is therefore necessary to integrate the public interest into the banking system, which nowadays resembles a public service. ... What can we expect of a government that has not used its 61.8 percent stake in Bankia to act like a genuine public bank if it is left with just a 15 percent minority stake in a private bank? ... This is not a question that only the Ministry of Economic Affairs should be dealing with. ... We demand a public debate.”

Público (ES) /

The private banks will become more powerful

Público is also against the merger and sees the danger of a monopoly:

“This merger would reinforce bank concentration and the excessive political and media power of the private banking sector. They are proportionally the largest and most powerful of all the banks in the European Union. No other country in Europe has such a large private banking sector and such a small public financial sector as Spain. ... This absence of public banks in Spain contrasts with an obvious fact: the private banking sector cannot exist without the support of the state. ... The programme of the new left-wing governing coalition in Spain provides for the creation of a public bank. The privatisation of Bankia does not move things in this direction. On the contrary, it makes this course more difficult. ”