Brussels, Rabi’II 17, 1437, January 27, 2016, SPA — Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan and the European Commission reached a deal Tuesday that will allow Italy to purge its banks of loans that are not likely to be repaid, according to dpa.
The deal would create a so-called bad bank in line with EU rules on state aid. Efforts to create a bad bank have been under way for several months.
Italian officials have long argued that the country’s tentative exit from recession has been hampered by bad debts, which have crippled its lenders and prevented them from finding the cash to finance growth-hungry firms.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Tuesday that she and Padoan had reached an “understanding … on the terms for setting up a guarantee scheme to support Italian banks in dealing with their non-performing loans,” following several hours of talks in Brussels.
Under the scheme, banks will be able to move non-performing loans into separately managed units, shifting them off their balance sheets.
The government will provide guarantees on the least risky, highest-value parts of the debt in an effort to encourage private investors to buy these securitized assets. If the guarantees are called upon, Italian taxpayers would ultimately foot the bill.
“The guarantees are to be priced at market terms, so do not constitute state aid,” Vestager said. The commission said it plans to monitor the scheme to ensure that this is the case.
The creation of a bad bank, together with other government reforms, “should further improve the banks’ ability to lend to the real economy and drive economic growth,” the commissioner added.
Padoan welcomed the deal, noting that it would create a “very useful instrument to manage the sufferings” of the Italian banking sector.
Several European Union countries have created bad banks, but there are constraints on the amount of public money governments can earmark to support them.
02:26 LOCAL TIME 23:26 GMT