Spain Almost Doubled Contingent Liabilities

The value of guarantees extended by the Spanish government in the past year to help banks and power companies and fund European rescue facilities almost doubled in the past year.

Outstanding guarantees rose to 181.4 billion euros ($239 billion) at the end of February, according to an update of the country’s Stability Program sent to the European Commission in Brussels. That compared with 98.3 billion euros at the end of 2011, according to the previous version of the document released a year earlier.

Contingent liabilities are potential obligations subject to a future event such as the default of the beneficiary of a guarantee. Spain’s total contingent liabilities are equivalent to about 21 percent of the country’s public debt.

The largest share of the liabilities was made up of 66.4 billion euros of guarantees on bond issues from credit institutions, according to the report. Sareb, as the country’s bad bank set up last year is known, had 50.8 billion euros of guarantees, and another 31.9 billion euros were extended to the European Financial Stability Facility, the fund used to rescue countries including Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Guarantees extended to the program to securitize a power-tariff deficit, a gap between the electricity price to clients and the production cost, totaled 17 billion euros. The government also had 10.9 billion euros in guarantees to the banking bailout fund known as Frob and 3.6 billion euros to a program to issue bonds backed by loans to small and medium-sized businesses.

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