Galicia Leads Banks Down on Capital Rules: Buenos Aires Mover

Grupo Financiero Galicia SA, Argentina’s largest consumer lender, led losses among members of the benchmark Merval index after the central bank increased capital requirements.

Galicia fell 5.9 percent to 3.54 pesos at the close in Buenos Aires, the steepest fall in almost three months. The Merval index retreated 2.7 percent.

The new capital requirement “is making the stocks fall as it will cap the amount they can pay in dividends,” Marcelo Olguin, chief economist at SBS Soc. de Bolsa SA, said in a phone interview.

Argentine banks will be required to hold an extra 75 percent of their minimum capital requirements before dividend payments, up from the current 30 percent, the bank said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The central bank said that the measure, which will be applied gradually starting Feb. 1 through December, seeks to comply with the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

“It has the double purpose of giving more security to savers, as well as increasing the system’s resources to expand credit,” the central bank said in the statement.

BBVA Banco Frances SA, the local unit of Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, paid 804 million pesos ($185 million) in dividends last year, SBS said in an e-mailed note today. Banco Macro SA followed with 505 million pesos and Grupo Financiero Galicia SA paid 24.8 million pesos.

Banco Macro retreated 2.5 percent to 11.8 pesos, Banco Frances dropped 5.5 percent to 9.59 pesos. Banco Hipotecario SA fell 2.3 percent to 1.73 pesos.