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EBF’s Clausen Says EU Likely to Delay Basel Bank Rule Overhaul

Banks in the European Union expect the bloc to delay applying the latest round of Basel bank capital rules as political negotiations on the measures drag on, the head of a lobbying group said.

Christian Clausen, president of the European Banking Federation, said the EU will push back the planned Jan. 1, 2013, start date for phasing in the standards because uncertainty over the final rules risks leaving lenders with additional costs.

“It’s of course a major concern,” Clausen, who is also chief executive officer of Nordea Bank AB, said in an interview in Brussels today. “I’m sure the date will be postponed.”

The EU has struggled to agree on how to apply the Basel capital rules for banks as legislators and officials spar over curbs on bonuses and how to ensure lenders can weather funding squeezes. The measures would more than triple the core capital that banks must hold as a buffer against insolvency.

The Jan. 1, 2013, deadline was agreed on by the Group of 20 nations in 2010. The rules were drawn up by global regulators in the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

The lack of legal certainty, coupled with the international deadline, means that banks might be forced to rely on draft versions of the rules for guidance on how to overhaul their internal compliance and reporting systems, Clausen said.

Lenders would then incur extra costs when they have to adapt again to the final standards, he said.

“It’s a cost issue, a very simple cost issue” he said, adding that the situation may also create confusion for investors.

The EBF brings together national associations of banks in the 27-nation EU.

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