May 17, 2012 / 11:19 AM / 7 years ago

Bankia customers pull out over 1 billion euros: report

MADRID (Reuters) - Customers at nationalized Spanish bank Bankia SA (BKIA.MC) have taken out more than 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) over the past week in a sign of fast-fading confidence in the lender, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

Newly appointed Chairman Jose Ignacio Goirigolzarri informed a board meeting on Wednesday about the exit of funds from the bank, El Mundo said, citing information from the board meeting it had seen.

Bankia, the Bank of Spain and the economy ministry declined to comment on the report.

The government on May 9 took over Bankia, the country’s fourth-largest lender, in an attempt to dispel concerns over the bank’s ability to deal with losses related to the 2008 property crash.

Uncertainty over the final cost of Spain’s banking reforms has stoked investor fears that an expensive international bail-out could be on the cards, adding to concerns about the survival of the euro zone.

The amount of money the report said customers have withdrawn from Bankia, which holds around 10 percent of Spanish deposits, is equivalent to around 1 percent of the lender’s retail and corporate deposits.

“All the negative publicity surrounding the nationalization is bound to have some impact,” said one banking analyst.

One source close to the bank said money had been leaving Bankia even before the nationalization.

“I think that’s why the government stepped in to nationalize it so quickly,” the source said.

Bankia released data late on Tuesday showing deposits were stable in the first quarter of the year, although this was before doubts about the viability of the bank reached fever pitch and the government stepped in.

Shares in Bankia slumped a further 10 percent on Thursday, compounding a week of falls, as small investors who had participated in a July stock market listing sold their holdings which have lost over half their value since the flotation.

Separately, a government spokeswoman said the bidding process to select an external auditor to value real estate assets across the banking sector was still open and denied Oliver Wyman and BlackRock (BLK.N) had been chosen as sources previously told Reuters.

“We are at the stage of receiving pitches,” she said on Thursday.

($1 = 0.7849 euros)

Reporting by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Mark Potter and David Holmes

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