Fiona's Feed
Feb 21, 2014
via Breakingviews

Spain’s BBVA keeps banking’s tech enemies close

Photo

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Francisco Gonzalez, chairman of BBVA, recently said that banks needed to take on Amazon and Google or die. He aims to be one of the survivors. The 51 billion euro ($70 billion) Spanish bank has bought U.S.-based mobile banking technology startup Simple for $117 million. It may be a small deal, but it comes with potentially big implications for the industry.

Dec 17, 2013
via Breakingviews

Shale energy deficit will hit Europe hard

Photo

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Will the shale boom ever reach Europe’s shores?  It has had a remarkable impact in the U.S. Thanks to fracking, American chemicals and steel companies pay two-thirds less than European counterparts for natural gas, according to Eni, the Italian oil and gas firm. They pay half the cost for electricity. The International Energy Agency expects U.S. manufacturers’ share of global energy-intensive exports to grow slightly over the next two decades on the back of cheap energy, against a 10 percent decline in Europe. Thanks in part to the lower energy prices, the Boston Consulting Group reckons the U.S. will create up to 5 million factory and services jobs by 2020.

Oct 17, 2013
via Breakingviews

BBVA makes painful withdrawal from Chinese bank

Photo

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

BBVA is learning the Chinese art of saving face. The Spanish lender has attributed its sale of a 5 percent stake in China’s CITIC Bank to new Basel capital rules. Yet while the deal will add 2.4 billion euros to BBVA’s capital, it hardly sugarcoats a 2.3 billion euro writedown on the value of its stake. Basel may have provided a graceful way to reduce an underwhelming investment.

Oct 8, 2013
via Breakingviews

Santander believes in Spain again

Photo

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Why would Santander double up on consumers in crisis-hit Spain? The Spanish bank is buying a controlling stake in the consumer finance arm of retailer El Corte Ingles, a department store. With 26 percent of Spain’s population out of work, that might seem risky. But Santander gets access to 10.5 million new clients, a goldmine of data, and majority control of the country’s largest consumer finance business – all at a modest price.

Sep 17, 2013

Breakingviews- Spanish banks can use some accounting finesse

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The
opinions expressed are her own.)

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

MADRID, Sept 17 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Spanish banks are
feeling hard done by. They are being accused of trying to
improve their headline core capital ratios by asking the
government to change accounting rules on deferred tax assets.
The Bank of Spain’s governor, facing preemptive criticism,
insists the move “is no gimmick”. To some extent, he is right.

Sep 10, 2013

Breakingviews- Sabadell capital hike puts heat on Spanish peers

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own.)

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

MADRID, Sept 10 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Banco Sabadell’s
(SABE.MC: Quote, Profile, Research) latest capital hike puts the heat on its Spanish
peers. The lender is raising up to 1.4 billion euros to bolster
its balance sheet ahead of tighter regulatory requirements.
Given that a cloud of uncertainty still hangs over Spanish
banks’ capital positions, Sabadell probably won’t be the last to
do so.

Sep 6, 2013

Breakingviews- Spanish property market is back from the dead

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own.)

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

MADRID, Sept 6 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Ever since Spain’s
massive property bubble burst in 2008, U.S. funds have been
scouring Madrid for property bargains. After years of
frustration, a few are now clinching deals. But the floodgates
aren’t opening yet.

Jul 20, 2012
via Breakingviews

Spain’s bosses need an internal devaluation

Photo

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Spain is fertile ground for a “shareholder spring” over executive pay. Bosses in some cases make multiples more than their peers in other European countries, as do board directors. Investors turned a blind eye in the boom times. Now their inaction is even harder to excuse.

Jul 6, 2012
via Breakingviews

Spain needs to get on with its to-do list

Photo

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Spain’s current government, like its predecessor, always seems behind the curve. It has made some progress in passing budget cuts and some structural reforms, but it’s not enough. Only recently did it start to mention additional measures to get the country’s finances under control. The hope is that it won’t fall short.

Jul 6, 2012
via Breakingviews

Bankia probe will help Spanish banking cleanup

Photo

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Bankia will face its day of reckoning at last. Spain’s parliament had disappointingly declined to investigate the events that led to the Spanish lender’s spectacular 23.5 billion euro bailout. But after a suit launched by one of Spain’s smaller independent parties, the country’s High Court has launched a high-profile fraud probe, meaning that bank’s former board members will have to face the music. At the top of the list is ex-chairman Rodrigo Rato, former conservative finance minister and head of the International Monetary Fund. This is a welcome step towards a necessary Spanish banking cleanup.

    • About Fiona

      "Fiona Maharg-Bravo is breakingviews´ Madrid correspondent. Fiona joined breakingviews in 2003 in London, covering media, transport, energy and Spain. Previously she spent a few months at the Financial Times as winner of the 2002 Nico Colchester Fellowship. Before becoming a journalist, Fiona worked nearly five years in banking, first at JP Morgan in equity capital markets and leveraged finance groups and then at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. She gained a BA/MA (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Chicago in Political Science and International Relations and a Diploma in Economics from Cambridge University."
    • Follow Fiona