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European banks face EUR 280 bn capital shortfall: PwC

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(PARIS) - European banks will require 280 billion euros ($380 billion) of extra capital in 2014 to meet reforms aimed at avoiding a repeat of the global financial crisis, according to a report published Thursday.

The report by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers said that banks would be forced to turn to the market to raise 180 billion euros of the required capital, as other methods of securing the funds -- including the sale of assets -- would fall short of closing the gap.

"Between the requirements under Basel III and the ECB Comprehensive Assessment, European banks are facing another turbulent couple of years," said Miles Kennedy, PwC financial services partner.

Under the so-called Basel III banking reforms which are being phased in from 2013 to January 2019, banks are required to set aside a capital cushion of at least 7.0 percent of the total risks they are carrying.

Banks in the eurozone are also due next year to have their books examined by the European Central Bank, which will determine if they are building up a sufficient cushion in case of a crisis.

Several international banks had to turn to the state for rescue funds during the 2008 global financial crisis, when mortgages and other securities they were holding turned into bad debts.

Warning of tough competition for capital in 2014, PwC suggested that banks should seek to raise funds "sooner rather than later" in order to "mitigate the risk of market disruption or volatility".

"Although the environment for capital raising is becoming more favourable, 180 billion euros is still a lot for the market to absorb in the short term. So the competition for new capital will be fierce," said Kennedy.


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