LISBON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Portugal's three biggest lenders plan to jointly manage some of their bad loans in an effort to avoid further writedowns and restore struggling borrowers to health, a move agreed with the government and central bank, the deputy finance minister said.
State-owned Caixa Geral de Depositos as well as Novo Banco and Millennium bcp will form a private vehicle to manage loans that at least two of them have made to the same corporate borrowers, Ricardo Mourinho Felix told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
A Novo Banco spokesman confirmed on Thursday that the three banks had agreed to form a joint debt-management platform but gave no further details.
Millennium bcp and Caixa declined to comment.
The three banks account for most of Portugal's bad loans, which are estimated to total 25-30 billion euros, or about 15 percent of their total credit portfolios, mainly to companies. It is one of European banking's biggest bad-debt burdens.
It is unclear how many bad loans will be jointly managed by the three lenders' new vehicle, which Mourinho Felix said would be structured as "a complementary group of companies" and focus on loans to corporate borrowers that were considered viable.
The loans would remain on the banks' balance sheets.
"The ownership of the process is with the banks and they are already preparing the documents," Mourinho Felix said. (Editing by Axel Bugge and Mark Bendeich)