Profits plunge at Spanish bank BBVA

Spain's second-biggest bank by market capitalisation, BBVA, said Wednesday its profits plunged by nearly two thirds in the first quarter but its ratio of risky assets eased.

Profits plunge at Spanish bank BBVA
Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP

The bank recorded quarterly profits of 624 million euros ($865 million), down 64 percent from a year earlier when its earnings were exceptionally boosted by the sale of certain assets.

BBVA was hurt like all of Spain's banks by its exposure to the real estate sector which collapsed in 2008 after a 10-year boom.

It said Wednesday however that it could see "clear signs of improvement" in asset quality.

Its ratio of high-risk loans decreased for the first time since 2011, from 6.8 to 6.6 percent on a quarterly basis.

Two other major banks, Santander and Caixabank, have also reported a lowering of their ratio of high-risk loans — mostly bad real estate assets left over from the crash.

This strengthening in the first quarter could indicate a possible turning point for Spain as it crawls out of recession.

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Spain’s BBVA bank poised to axe 3,800 jobs and close 530 branches

Spain's second-largest bank BBVA is looking to shed 3,800 jobs, affecting 16 percent of its staff, a union said Thursday while denouncing the plans as "scandalous".

Spain's BBVA bank poised to axe 3,800 jobs and close 530 branches
Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

The move came just two days after another hefty cut in banking jobs was announced by rival CaixaBank, which said it was planning to axe 8,300 staff.

“BBVA wants to lay off 3,800 people. These redundancies would affect 16 percent of the workforce, 3,000 in the branch network and another 800 in the bank’s central services,” the CCOO Workers’ Union said in a statement.

It said the bank was planning to shut down 530 of its branches, denouncing the dismissal plan as “indefensible and scandalous” and warning it would stage a protest.

It was the latest bank to announce layoff plans as the sector struggles to cope with record-low interest rates and an economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, along with a surge in popularity of online banking services.

In mid-November, BBVA announced it was locked in talks about a possible merger with smaller rival Banco Sabadell in a tie-up that would have created a top player within Spain’s banking sector.

But just weeks later the plans were scrapped.

There has been a wave of consolidation within the sector which has been encouraged by Spain’s central bank, with Caixabank completing a massive merger with its smaller rival Bankia last month.

On Tuesday, Caixabank confirmed it would shed nearly one in five jobs, affecting 8,291 staff, in cutbacks which were necessary as a result of the “overlaps and synergies derived from the merger and the current market circumstances,” it said.