Banking sees margin in Spain for more mergers despite the strong concentration of recent years, especially now in smaller entities that, as highlighted by the Bank of Spain, face the regulatory challenges of higher capital requirements.
The day Unicaja and Liberbank have admitted that they are holding talks for a merger, the governor of the Bank of Spain, Pablo Hernández de Cos, has pointed out that low profitability prevents some entities from facing alone the investments required by the digital transformation of the business .
During the XIV Banking Meeting, the sector has complained that it is difficult to improve profitability at this time for different reasons, either due to low interest rates, as pointed out by the BBVA CEO, Carlos Torres Vila, or by the Capital requirements, as pointed out by Bankia number two, José Sevilla.
From Sabadell, Jaime Guardiola also includes as a ballast for profitability some political decisions that affect banks directly and run the risk of the economy collapse if families and companies do not access credit.
The entities have claimed their role and the need to transfer it to society with the hope that it improves its reputation, another challenge pointed out by the Bank of Spain, which has warned of the increase in delinquency in consumer credit.
A situation, according to Hernández de Cos, which suggests a certain relaxation in the granting criteria by the entities.
However, Banco Santander does not see a problem in the boom in consumer credit and considers more worrisome the lack of political and intellectual leadership that currently prevails and that leads to take immediate solutions, which end up affecting the banking business.
The bank has agreed that if there is no more banking union it will be difficult to see cross-border operations and in the case of Spain, although the bulk has already been done, they see room for more mergers, or at least that is what Sabadell and Bankia have said.
The same idea has been suggested by the CEO of CaixaBank, Gonzalo Gortázar, although he has marked distances with the consolidation processes that may have taken place because the entity is now focused on its digital transformation.
A merger at this time "would be an oversight and takes time to do other things," he added, in line with the thesis moved on previous occasions by BBVA, which today said they think big "to break molds and surprise the customer" .
Throughout the day, Bankia has advocated that the State, through the FROB, resume its privatization when appropriate and "little by little", after the Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño, opened the door to place a control participation of the bank.
Sabadell, which a week ago was willing to merge its British subsidiary TSB when it is profitable, maintains its hope that there is an agreement on the "Brexit", although if not it ensures that it has contingency plans for any scenario.
And immersed in its technological transformation, CaixaBank did not want to rule out exporting to other markets ImaginBank, its mobile bank created for the youngest and that competes directly with some "fintech", emerging banking services companies.
To face these competitors and the "bigtech", giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook or Apple, the CEO of Bankia has demanded a common regulation for the financial sector and these new players if they are dedicated to the same activities.
Aspect demanded on previous occasions by the still president of BBVA, Francisco González, and the head of Banco Santander, Ana Botín.