Spain Hires Oliver Wyman, Roland Berger to Stress Test Banks

Spain hired Oliver Wyman Ltd. and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants to carry out a stress test on the nation’s lenders and plans to contract three auditing companies to do an additional analysis of banks’ loans.

The stress-test results will be published in the second half of June, the Madrid-based Economy Ministry said in an e-mailed statement today. By the end of May, three auditing firms will be hired to assess how each bank is accounting for asset deterioration, with results due in the coming months.

The exercise is part of Spain’s fourth attempt in three years to clean up its lenders, which have about 184 billion euros ($235 billion) of what the Bank of Spain calls “problematic” real estate-linked assets. Concerns about banks’ losses infecting public finances helped push the country’s 10-year bond yield to as high as 6.5 percent last week.

“These firms are more independent and have less conflicts in Spain,” said Inigo Lecubarri, who helps manage about $300 million at Abaco Financials Fund in London. “They are competent people to do this job.”

BlackRock Inc. was contracted by Ireland’s central bank in January 2011 to audit the balance sheet of six banks and also was chosen by government agencies in Greece, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden to value hard-to-value portfolios.

The Financial Times was among newspapers that had reported that BlackRock had been picked for the valuation work in Spain. Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said in an interview last month that BlackRock would face conflicts of interest because it would be looking for investment opportunities at the same time.

“BlackRock is conflicted -- these guys are going to be looking to buy assets in Spain,” said Lecubarri.

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