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Opinion

European banking: The Spanish inquisition

Santander’s takeover of Banco Popular was certainly in the public interest, but did it break EU law?

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The weight of claims stacking up at the European Court of Justice against the Single Resolution Board’s decision to place Banco Popular Espanol into resolution in June is quite impressive: between June 7 and September 28, 75 separate cases were filed at the ECJ. 

The chances of success for any of these actions would seem to be very thin, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping investors bringing them. 

The ins and outs of the speedy decision by the SRB to place the troubled bank into resolution and sell it to Spanish rival Santander for €1 have been well discussed. 

As the dust settles and the nature of the claims that have been brought against the decision become slightly clearer, there seem to be some fundamental questions about the transparency of decision-making at the new resolution board that could do with closer scrutiny.

The nature of the run on the bank is central to this. For a troubled bank to experience a run is hardly unexpected. The key issues here are whether or not the SRB’s own actions exacerbated the run and why the bank was not kept on emergency support until June 9, which would have given the regulators more breathing space to examine their options.

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