Investors Had About $1 Billion of Short Positions in Spain

Investors had about 740 million euros ($1.05 billion) of short positions on Spanish banks and financial firms at the end of last month, before regulators banned the practice.

The company most targeted in Spain is Banco Popular Espanol, which had at least 6.03 percent of its shares shorted on July 29, an amount equivalent to about 305 million euros, the country’s securities regulator, the CNMV, said in a statement on its website today.

Regulators in France, Spain, Italy and Belgium today banned short-selling in a bid to reverse a slide in financial stocks sparked by concern about the state of government finances. In Spain, the CNMV’s ban forbids new short sales or increases in existing positions because of “the situation of extreme volatility” in the markets.

“What doesn’t change with the short-selling ban is the opinion of investors,” said Neil Smith, an analyst at WestLB AG in a phone interview.

Other companies in which investors have taken out short positions include Bankinter SA (BKT), with 5.85 percent of its shares shorted, Banco Sabadell SA with 3.66 percent, Banco de Valencia SA (BVA) with 1.69 percent and Banco Pastor SA (PAS) with 0.27 percent.

The CNMV requires individual short positions of more than 0.5 percent to be declared and also includes positions above 0.2 percent in its calculations. The data don’t include shorts that fall below the 0.2 percent threshold.

To contact the reporter on this story: Charles Penty in Madrid at cpenty@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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