July 30 - Deutsche, UBS, Santander and Barclays all post second quarter numbers with big question marks hanging over risks for the sector going forward, but is the regulatory environment necessarily stifling banks to ensure economies are protected or are there larger concerns about Europe's banking leaders businesses? Joel Flynn reports.
Europe's banking leaders have not had an easy time. And second quarter numbers for Deutsche Bank, Santander and UBS aren't great. Deutsche faces hundreds of millions of euros for litigation and compliance. Santander profits were up but suffered from weakness in Latin America and Spain. While UBS is only just repaying a bailout loan. But is it a case of no pain no gain? Chris Wheeler is from Mediobanca. SOUNDBITE: Mediobanca Director, Chris Wheeler, saying (English): "I think the regulators want to push up how much they have as a cushion, not just against what we call risk weighted assets, in other words trying to take loans and other assets and trying to put a risk coefficient on them, but just looking at the sheer scale, the size of the balance sheet, so I think this is all about creating banks that are seen to have more stability around them." Bank regulators in the U.S. and Europe have made new rules to protect their economies. Lenders must now keep more money in reserve for a rainy day. But in Europe there are several regulators to satisfy - not just one. Accenture's Julian Skan says that's why US banks aren''t suffering as much. SOUNDBITE: Accenture Managing Director for Banking in Europe, Africa and Latin America, Julian Skan, saying (English: "You don't know when you can stabilise the balance sheet, you don't know what assumptions you can make, and these aren't micro issues where you can just provision for one item. It's a macro issues such as are the whole synergies of retail and investment banking going to be separated." The higher capital ratios are being blamed for restricting lending and stunting growth -- but are they? SOUNDBITE: Accenture Managing Director for Banking in Europe, Africa and Latin America, Julian Skan, saying (English: "I think that banks are not lending because the economy is weak. The question is, if we want to put risk investment into the economies, whether in the UK, or in Spain, or in Italy, how do we do that and how do we expand that sector of venture capital investment into startups, which are a lot of initiatives, but some of the thinking's not very joined up." The restructuring in Europe is far from over And how much patience investors have is key to their transformation. Shares in Deutsche and Santanders were all down, while UBS's were up.