Feb 8, 2023
ECB’s Top Bank Supervisor Gives Seal of Approval to Payout Plans
(Bloomberg) -- Europe’s top banking regulator said the industry’s plans for rewarding shareholders aren’t excessive after some lenders dialed back payouts.
“The distribution plans are sustainable from our perspective,” Andrea Enria, top oversight official at the European Central Bank, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. An ECB review found that “the largest majority of banks” would remain above relevant capital thresholds even in an “a sufficiently conservative adverse scenario” for the economy and their balance sheets, he said.
European banks from BNP Paribas SA to UniCredit SpA are planning a cascade of buybacks after a surge in interest rates handed the industry its most profitable year since 2007. The ECB and other authorities have still called for caution, given the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is likely to hurt the economy.
“In a limited number of cases, banks have reduced distribution amounts” following discussions with their supervisors, Enria told reporters earlier. He didn’t name any banks
France’s Societe Generale SA fell short of a pledge to pay out half of its underlying profit to shareholders when announcing its full-year results on Wednesday.
The ECB didn’t intervene on SocGen’s payout plans, Chief Executive Frederic Oudea told reporters on Wednesday in Paris.
“It has all our capital trajectories and it is comfortable with them,” Oudea said. “It is the board that deemed that it was the right equilibrium, in this very, very specific year of course.”
SocGen uses underlying net income to calculate its dividends. Last year’s profit on a reported basis was hit by billions of euros in charges related to the sale of its Russian business.
The so-called significant banks that the ECB oversees plan to pay out 51% of their 2022 gross profits, Enria said. That’s broadly in line with the “catch-up” in distributions they had made in 2022 following pandemic restrictions, according to the official.
“We also saw that some banks were planning very sizable distributions have wisely chosen to spread their buybacks into different tranches also to look at the possible turns in the macroeconomic environment which we think has been prudent,” Enria said in the Bloomberg TV interview on Wednesday from Frankfurt.
--With assistance from Alexandre Rajbhandari, Anna Edwards and Kailey Leinz.
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