Spanish savings banks seek Arab investors

A delegation representing the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks (CECA) has begun a tour of the most important markets in the Middle East. It is planning to visit three emirites and Kuwait after the Bank of Spain published figures showing that the financial sector in Spain needed extra capital totalling 15,152 million euros in order to fulfil the new requirements for solvency set down by the government – 14,077 million euros of which correspond to savings banks.

This current tour of the Middle East follows a similar tour by representatives of CECA to Pekín, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo at the beginning of March when the Spanish president, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, was visiting the Middle East.

Zapatero managed to get Qatar to invest 300 million euros in Spanish savings banks and the United Arab Emirites to invest at least 150 million euros. However, according to sources speaking on behalf of CECA this new tour of the Middle East is taking place in order to test the new legislative framework.

The latest reforms to laws governing savings banks has opened up the possibility of emitting participative quotas – whose value are similar to shares – with policy making rights, something which according to experts is more attractive to investors.

At the same time the changes to the rules has given savings banks the right to become foundations with the responsibility of carrying out social projects whilst handing over financial dealings to a bank – all this makes it easier for them to be floated on the market.

Jorge Gil, the Chairman of CECA, is leading the Middle Eastern delegation whose agenda includes a visit to a different country everyday. Yesterday it visited Dubai, today the delegation is visiting Qatar, followed by Kuwait and Abu Dabi over the next few days.