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Spain's Competition Watchdog Investigates Four Banks Over State-Backed Covid-19 Loans — Update

(Adds comment from CaixaBank)

   By Pietro Lombardi 

The Spanish competition authority is investigating Banco de Sabadell SA, Banco Santander SA, CaixaBank SA and Bankia for possible anti-competitive practices in the marketing of state-backed loans to help companies and freelance workers weather the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The CNMC said Wednesday that it is looking into the conditions attached to such credit lines by the banks, as well as the use of these loans to restructure pre-existing debts.

"Following the analysis carried out, the CNMC considers that the actions of the banks under investigation differ from the good faith required of companies in their relations with customers," the authority said.

Santander said it has complied with existing regulation on such loans and has respected competition with its competitors in marketing them. The bank "has not made ICO-guaranteed financing contingent on any product or service, nor has it imposed the use of such financing to restructure pre-existing debts," a spokesman said.

Sabadell declined to comment.

CaixaBank, which acquired Bankia in March, said it and Bankia have provided the authority with all the information it has requested on the marketing of these loans. It added that it is willing to give the CNMC additional information on the marketing process.

"We are confident that the detail and additional evidence we will provide will lead the regulator to conclude that at no time did any sanctionable conduct take place," CaixaBank said.


Write to Pietro Lombardi at; @pietrolombard10


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 16, 2021 08:31 ET (12:31 GMT)

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