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Spain's companies face accounting test

Until the advent of the European IAS39 accounting standard at the beginning of the year Spanish reporting requirements for derivatives were relatively relaxed. Now, though, companies will have to lift the lid on derivative transactions, causing pain for some of them.


SPANISH COMPANIES HAVE until now shown little fear of complex financial products. "Spanish corporates are among the most sophisticated corporates in the market," says Jean Daniel Lorenzo, who is in charge of Spanish clients in the strategic equity group of BNP Paribas' equities and derivatives division. "They never discard a derivative solution just because it has the word derivative in it." Spanish companies have been ramping up their use of derivatives in the past three years. Following the aftermath of the Latin American crisis in 2002, which left many of them with burnt fingers, risk management became a priority in the treasuries of many major companies.

The change of culture has also resulted in a big growth in use of derivatives. Indeed derivatives dealers working with European corporates say that Spanish companies have been among the biggest and most frequent users of derivatives in the past few years.

Until now the Spanish generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) derivative reporting requirements have not been as stringent as those in other European countries, such as the UK. But with the advent of the new European international financial reporting standards (IFRS) at the beginning of the year, in particular the IAS32 and IAS39 financial instrument standards, companies are facing a major shift in their derivatives reporting requirements.

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