Bloomberg News

Banks Said to Squabble With EU Over Size of Greek Debt Losses

October 24, 2011

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The world’s biggest banks are squabbling with European leaders over the size of losses on their Greek bonds as they seek a deal to cut the country’s debt load, two people with knowledge of the discussions said.

The financial companies, represented by the Institute of International Finance, proposed a loss of 40 percent on Greek debt, said one of the people, who declined to be identified because talks are confidential. The European Union is calling on investors to forfeit as much as 60 percent, making a compromise at 50 percent possible, the person said.

The talks are part of an attempt to solve the two-year-old sovereign-debt crisis that has pushed Greece closer to default, roiled global markets and dented confidence in the survival of the 17-nation currency. EU leaders are scrambling to reach an agreement on bolstering the region’s rescue fund, recapitalizing banks and relieving Greece to avoid contagion spreading to Italy and Spain before another summit in two days.

Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker, who leads the group of euro-area finance ministers, today said talks on private-sector involvement in a second aid package for Greece are focusing on losses of “about 50 percent, 60 percent.”

Charles Dallara, managing director of the IIF, the lobby group for 450 of the world’s biggest financial companies, said on Oct. 22 that “discussions are making progress, albeit limited.” The group remains “open to explore options on a voluntary approach built on a realistic outlook for the Greek economy and restoration of Greece’s market access,” he said.

Larger Writedowns

EU policy makers have been calling for larger writedowns amid a deteriorating Greek economic and financial situation, as highlighted in a draft report last week by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, collectively known as the troika.

Greek two-year notes currently trade at about 40 percent of face value. Under the terms of a July 21 accord with the IIF, the banks would take losses of 21 percent on the net present value of their holdings of the nation’s debt. That plan includes up to 35 billion euros ($49 billion) in high-quality collateral for the investors.

One option being considered involves a swap with no collateral of any kind in a so-called hard restructuring, people familiar with the matter said on Oct. 21. Other plans involve an exchange with a 50 percent reduction in net present value, or upfront bond exchanges into either European Financial Stability Facility bonds or new 30-year Greek government debt, the people said. Upfront exchanges could involve a 50 percent discount off face value.

To help European lenders shoulder sovereign losses, lenders may be required to raise about 100 billion euros in capital by mid-2012, according to two people briefed on the matter. The European Banking Authority tested lenders to see how much money they’ll need after writing down bonds from countries such as Greece and marking up stronger debt including that of Germany, they said.

Reuters reported the 40 percent proposal by banks late yesterday.

--Editors: Keith Campbell, Edward Evans.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Kirchfeld in Frankfurt at akirchfeld@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net; Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net


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