For a bank that recently expressed itself satisfied with its ability to improve its capital position, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA now gives the impression that it can't get enough of the stuff.
Why? It is prudent to fluff up the capital cushion given the clouded economic outlook in Spain and Mexico, from where more than two-thirds of its profit is generated, and given the unknowns in future regulation. But the move to raise as much as $4.42 billion may well be driven with an opportunistic eye on acquisitions.
The move seems odd given that BBVA raised its core Tier 1 capital ratio by 70 basis points during the first half of this year by making a profit. This year it is expected to reap a net profit of around $7.4 billion, which would take Tier 1 to about 7.4%, well ahead of its own unpublished target for the year.
Also, the bank has confirmed that it is in talks on yet more capital raising, this time through the sale and lease back of branches that may raise another $1.77 billion, according to Spanish newspaper Expansion.
Already this year, BBVA has moved to take advantage of the banking crisis in the U.S. by buying Guaranty Financial Group Inc., which boosted its presence in Texas at a minimal cost.
Analysts at Nomura calculate that even if all Guaranty's $9.7 billion of loans are bad, this will end up costing BBVA only $800 million because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will take the rest of the pain.
BBVA would be keen to do other deals to enhance its North American franchise, especially if it could pick up another fire sale bargain, although the window of opportunity there will shut when the U.S. economy picks up.
In case capital requirements rise, BBVA could keep its powder dry while it consolidates Guaranty and watches how Spain and Mexico make it through the economic shakedown. But the bank is also making sure that another FDIC-backed bargain will be within its grasp, and if more capital intensive buys arise in the future it can execute them.