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2.5 billion in dividends to vanish from European banks in two weeks

9/11/2011 - 6:08
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EU representatives already warned Eurozone banks that they would experience limits on dividend payouts in order to ensure that they were able to meet 9% minimum capital reserve requirements. Only two weeks later, this warning is having an effect.

Yesterday Société Générale announced that it would suspend dividend payments for 2011 in order to "strengthen capitalization and solvency levels." But the French lender is not the only major financial institution in Europe that needs to cut its dividend.

Since the EU gave their warning, experts have decided that the biggest European banks will forgo up to 2.5 billion euros in dividend payouts this year. Doubts around the unraveling of the Greek debt crisis (many lenders have the ailing country's debt in their portfolios) and obligatory sector-wide provisions make dividends an uncertain compensation for investors.

What will happen is so uncertain that the market consensus, according to FactSet, had predicted that the thirty biggest European banks on the Stoxx index would shell out up to 33 billion euros in dividends next year. Now that figure has been trimmed to 30.5 billion.

Developments in Greece weigh down stocks

It's not easy being on of the main debt holders in a country with continual risk of payment default. The banking sector has given up more than 30% since January and accumulated steady declines in the wake of the latest peripheral debt crisis. In terms of dividends, the cutbacks have already weighed on various victims: the German lender Commerzbank and Société Générale in France.


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