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Banking

ECB piles more pressure on Italian mid-tier

Lenders recoil at new deadlines for 100% NPL coverage; ECB throws spanner in works of Banca Carige capital raising.

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For Italian mid-tier banks, it was another unwelcome surprise. 

New European Central Bank guidelines will require lenders to entirely cover new non-performing loans within two and seven years for unsecured and secured loans, respectively. 

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The proposal, announced in October, has most relevance in Italy because it has Europe’s biggest pile of soured loans – on average only 60% covered – and a sluggish legal enforcement system. Italian mid-tier lenders are also heavily reliant on collateralized lending to risky small and medium-sized enterprises in their regions.

Mid-tier Italian banks such as Banco BPM, BPER Banca and Credito Valtellinese, have gross NPL ratios above 20% and all saw their stocks fall after the announcement. 

BPER and Valtellinese, both smaller than newly merged Banco BPM, lost around 20% of their equity value in the three weeks following the news. Shares in top-tier lenders Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit, which have group NPL ratios of 13% and 11%, respectively, were more lightly impacted. 

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