Expats in Spain fearing Cyprus style bank runs after poor bank results

Published:  1 May at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, USA, Cyprus
Concern is growing amongst British expats in the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol as to the coronavirus's effect on Spanish banks.

Where finance is concerned, the vast majority of British expats have long memories and haven’t forgotten the Cypriot banks’ raiding of expats’ bank accounts in 2013. With another worldwide financial crisis brewing thanks to the pandemic, any bad banking news is being taken seriously by Britons in Spain’s expat retirees hubs along the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca.

According to local English language media in the region, the coronavirus crisis is already affecting two major Spanish banks popular with expats. BBVA is now reporting a quarterly loss of €1.79 billion, with Caixabank’s quarterly profits down by a huge 80 per cent. In addition, Santander has posted a profit downturn of 82 per cent. It seems BBVA’s bottom line was affected by the bank’s USA-based operation’s woes, but the bank’s profits for the first quarter of 2020 have also fallen by 75 per cent, with shareholders told not to expect their annual dividends unless a miracle occurs.

As regards Caixabank’s poor reports, its profit drop is similar to BBVA’s but its huge asset holdings helped it make a €90 million profit between January and the end of March. Unfortunately, the amount contrasts poorly with last year’s first quarter figures of €533 million. In spite of efforts by the Spanish government, the pandemic is expected to spur a severe recession along with low interest rates across the board.

Expat concerns are rooted in the 2012/2013 raiding of Cyprus-based expat accounts, confiscating retirement savings in order to protect the system and sparking a run on the banks as well as a great deal of expat anger. It’s unlikely that a like-for-like raid will occur, as the EU and the IMF might well present a swift bail-out , but in these uncertain times nothing can be guaranteed.
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