Banco Popular, Spain's fifth biggest bank by market capitalization, said Friday that it fell into a loss last year due to hefty provisions it had to take against bad loans.
The bank posted a 2012 net loss of 2.46 billion euros ($3.34 billion), compared with a net profit of 479.6 million euros in the previous year.
It booked provisions totaling 9.6 billion euros last year after the government ordered banks to set aside more money to cover real-estate defaults, up from 1.7 billion euros in 2011.
The total amount of new provisions expected to be taken by Spanish banks in 2012 to cover potential losses has been estimated at more than 80 billion euros.
If the extra provisions it made to meet the new government rules were excluded, Banco Popular said it would have posted a 2012 net profit of 520 million euros.
Unlike larger Spanish banks such as Santander and BBVA which have pursued an ambitious foreign expansion, Banco Popular has traditionally focused on the domestic market, leaving it more heavily exposed to the collapse of Spain's property market in 2008.
Last year Banco Popular shareholders approved raising 2.5 billion euros in new capital by issuing new stock to boost its capital base and maintain its independence rather than accepting bailout aid from the euro zone.
Spain, the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy, secured a rescue loan in June 2012 of up to 100 billion euros from its euro zone partners for its banks.
The Spanish property market crashed in 2008, throwing more than a million people out of work, exposing banks' reckless loans, and sharply reducing regional governments' income.
© 2013 AFP
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