Santander’s banking business is at risk after a recent surge in defaults in Europe and Japan, and the bank is under pressure to tell investors about its safety.
Santander’s chief executive, Michael Corbat, has said the bank “remains confident that we are safe.”
But in a conference call with investors on Monday, the bank’s chief financial officer, Michael Gomes, was asked whether Santander had a plan to “address any of the potential risk that we may have been exposed to.”
“We do not have a plan at this point,” Gomes replied.
“We continue to maintain our confidence in the bank and our ability to continue to do business with our customers.”
Santiago Mandelstam, a managing director at Morgan Stanley, a bank that is the largest bank in Europe, told reporters that “it’s a little bit of a mystery” whether Santanese’s problems are being caused by the bank itself or by the banks in other parts of Europe that are still holding out for a bailout.
“I think that the banks that are holding out are the ones that are going to have the most trouble,” Mandelstedt said.
The European Central Bank (ECB) said on Monday it would step in to recapitalize the country’s banks in a bid to save them from the worst-case scenario that could see them collapse.
But it has not given details about how it plans to help Santander.
It is also unclear how much money Santander will receive from the bailout.
The central bank on Monday said the banks would receive a combined total of around €7 billion, which would amount to about one-third of the total amount required by the EU and the ECB to rescue the banks.
The ECB will decide how much to spend in the next two weeks, and if Santander is eligible, it could receive up to a total of up to €12 billion.
In a statement on Monday morning, Santander said it was not releasing any more information about its operations at the moment, but that it was “working closely with our partners in Europe to develop a solution that will protect our customers, ensure our banking systems are safe and provide our customers with a long-term investment opportunity.”
A spokesperson for the European Banking Authority said on Tuesday that Santander would need to show the bank has “a plan” for its financial situation to receive the assistance, but declined to give details.
Corbat told the conference call that “the bank is confident that it is safe.”
But he said Santander was “still looking for some clarity” about its financial position, saying: “We are still very much in the process of developing a plan and the timeframe for that.”
The bank has said it has a “very low” chance of receiving a rescue package from the European Commission, which is the EU’s executive arm, because of its low debt-to-GDP ratio.
But Corbat told investors that the bank will continue to operate “as normal” in the event that the Commission does decide to take it on.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the European Central Banks has raised its assessment of the bank to a “critical” rating.
The report said the rating is “not yet as severe as the rating given to Bank of America in late November,” and that it would likely increase by a notch by the end of this year.
On Monday, Santaneda said it would be possible to repay some of its creditors with a capital injection.