Spain 'likely to request EU bank aid tomorrow'

Sources are claiming that deputy finance ministers from the single currency area may hold a conference call tomorrow morning to discuss a possible Spanish request for aid

Spain is likely to approach the eurozone for help recapitalising its ailing banks this weekend, sources in Germany and the EU have told Reuters.

Should Spain approach the EU it will be the fourth member country in the eurozone to ask for assistance since the debt crisis began.

Sources are claiming that deputy finance ministers from the single currency area may hold a conference call tomorrow morning to discuss a possible Spanish request for aid.

Today the Deputy Prime Minister denied any meetings were planned, but refused to confirm or deny whether any contact would take place.

Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said today that the government would not take any action until receiving IMF evaluations on Monday, and until auditors Spain has contracted have reported back.

The economy ministry said on its website the latter evaluations are expected by June 21 at the latest.

"Once the estimates of the numbers are known with regard to what the financial sector might need, the government will state its position," Saenz de Santamaria said.

"But in any case, I am telling you that no decision has been made either way," she added.

The cost of bailing out the struggling Spanish banks varies greatly depending on the estimate.

Some claim the figure is as low as 40 billion euros, with others saying the estimate could be as high as 100 billion euros (£80bn).

Just ten days ago the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, stated that “there will be no rescue of the Spanish banking sector”, but is now refusing to rule out seeking external help for banks in the eurozone's fourth biggest economy.

The European Commission spokesman on economic affairs said today that Spain had made no request for any support, and would not confirm of deny the reports that a conference call was planned.

Angela Merkel, speaking in Berlin said it was up to Spain to decide on what course of action was appropriate - and that she would not be pressing any country into taking a bailout.

Spain has faced criticism for the length of time it has taken for them to make a road-map for dealing with the crisis.

Business leaders have stressed that Spain needs to find a solution to the financial issues that it faces as soon as possible, in order to avoid any potential market fall-out following the Greek general elections on June 17.

Andreas Schmitz, the head of Germany's banking association said, "What we now crucially need is transparency and trust. Any further uncertainty, any speculation how the situation could develop is poisonous for the markets."

If the Spanish government approaches the European Union it may once again raise questions over its ability to deal with its debts through refinancing.

A Spanish bailout could also turn attention on Italy - which has the second-largest debt-load in the eurozone after Greece.

Debt in Italy is currently at 120% of its Gross Domestic Product.

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