Bloomberg News

Spain Uses State Lottery to Fund Regions as Its Bonds Slump

July 13, 2012

Spain will use its national lottery, the operator with the biggest jackpot in the world, to provide aid to regional governments as the nation struggles to avoid a second bailout itself.

The state-owned lottery will contribute 6 billion euros ($7.3 billion), taking out a loan against future revenue, to a fund of as much as 18 billion euros to fund redemptions and deficits for regions that request it.

Regions, many of which have been shut out of debt markets for more than a year, will pay a “small spread” above the central government’s yields to borrow from the fund, de Guindos said. The government will demand budget cuts in return from the regions that choose to use the fund, he said.

The yield on Spain’s 10-year benchmark bond rose four basis points to 6.68 percent as of 5:54 p.m. in Madrid, pushing the spread with similar German maturities to 5.42 percentage points.

Spain’s 10-year borrowing costs surged above 7 percent in June for the first time since the euro was created after the country requested as much as 100 billion euros in European loans to shore up a banking sector burdened with bad loans.

‘Fat One’

Loterias & Apuestas del Estado, a debt-free company the government tried to list on the stock market last year, has operated for almost 250 years in the world’s fourth-largest lottery market. The company’s annual Christmas draw, known as El Gordo, or the Fat One, had a prize pool last year of 2.3 billion euros. It had 2.6 billion euros of profit in 2010, according to the annual report.

The government also approved budget cuts announced by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on July 11, a reform of local government and measures to increase shop opening hours, lift restrictions on retailers to offer discounts and help exporters get financing.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the government aims to increase competitiveness through some 20 laws scheduled for adoption in the second half of the year, including an energy-sector overhaul.

Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro confirmed changes in value-added tax rates, and announced most items in the reduced 10 percent rate category will be transferred to the general rate, itself increased to 21 percent from 18 percent.

“We had no choice,” Montoro told reporters. “We were forced by circumstances, by the recommendations, forced by the absolute priority to reduce the budget deficit.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Emma Ross-Thomas in Madrid at erossthomas@bloomberg.net; Angeline Benoit in Madrid at abenoit4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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