Bankia CFO: ‘We’re focused on value generation’
The chief financial officer (CFO) of Bankia rebuffed questions on Monday about when the bailed-out Spanish lender might completely reprivatize, saying he was focused instead on enhancing the bank's value.
"That is a question more for shareholders… we are pretty much focused on value generation," CFO Leopoldo Alvear said in an interview with CNBC.
He added that the bank had benefited from strong support from international institutional investors, who now hold 10.4 percent of Bankia shares, up from around 3 percent in May.
Bankia reported full-year earnings that fell short of expectations on Monday, but fourth-quarter figures pointed to an upturn in lending activity and the first small signs of an economic recovery.
The bank posted a 2013 net profit of 509 million euros ($686 million) on Monday, below forecasts of 530 million euros from analysts polled by Reuters.
However, Alvear insisted the results were "absolutely in line" with what Bankia had expected.
The lender and its parent group BFA as a whole reported full-year group profit after tax of 818 million euros, above its own target of 800 million euros.
Bankia became emblematic of Spain's financial crisis and property market collapse and had to be rescued along with several other national lenders. In 2012 Spain's fellow euro zone countries agreed to lend the country's banks 39.5 billion euros to bolster their balance sheets and cover toxic loans.
In 2012, it posted a record 19.1 billion euro ($26.3 billion) loss and offloaded its toxic real estate loans into a Spanish "bad bank", set up to purchase banks' non-performing assets.
On Monday, the bank said its bad debt ratio at end-December was 14.7 percent versus 13.6 percent at end-September.
The bank reported 2013 net interest income of 2.5 billion euros, versus 2.4 billion euros expected in a Reuters poll. In the fourth quarter, the bank saw a brisker recovery of its lending business, however, with net interest income of 690 million euros, up 7 percent from the third quarter.
The latest data could provide a further signal that the wider Spanish economy is in recovery mode. The economy exited a two-year recession in the third quarter of 2013, although in the fourth quarter the economy grew a meager 0.3 percent.
"We have been on a steady path from the macro-perspective of Spain for a few quarters already… Spain is on everybody's watch list for good reasons," said Alvear.
(Read more: Spanish economy grows 0.3% in fourth quarter)
The country has seen its manufacturing and services sectors vastly improving — with all-sector growth in Spain hitting at 77-month high in December. Unemployment, however, remains a problem for the fourth largest economy in the euro zone, and 57.7 percent of young people in the country without jobs.