Dozens of angry clients of Portugal’s recently collapsed Banco Espirito Santo (BES) stormed a branch of its successor Novo Banco on Thursday demanding the pay-back of bonds representing their life-savings.
In the third such incident in recent weeks, around 100 people swarmed Novo Banco’s Coimbra agency in central Portugal shouting “thieves”, “crooks” and “we want our money back”, Portugal’s Lusa news agency said.
Novo Banco arose out of the ashes of BES in August, when it was launched by the government as part of a 4.9-billion-euro ($5.5 billion) bailout of BES — including a 3.9-billion-euro state loan — aimed at averting a national disaster and a fresh eurozone crisis.
It holds the healthy assets of BES and was put up for sale at the end of 2014. China’s Fosun as well as Spanish banks Caixa and Santander have expressed interest in acquiring it.
An association of 300 clients claiming to have been wronged by BES say they invested a total of 700 million euros and want the cash back before the Novo Blanco sale.
Novo Banco chief Eduardo Stock da Cunha says the bank is not responsible for debt issued by its collapsed predecessor, and on Thursday Bank of Portugal governor Carlos Costa said the Lisbon stock exchange authorities needed to resolve the issue as the row was over financial instruments.
A week ago around 50 people stormed a bank in the northern city of Porto to demand reimbursement of the bonds, and in late January around 100 protesters protested at the bank’s Lisbon headquarters.
Novo Banco has shed several arms of the failed BES, including its investment branch to Chinese finance group Haitong, its insurance arm Tranquilidade and its travel and health subsidiaries, Espirito Santo Viagens and Espirito Santo Saude.