25 European banks set to fail health checks: sources

An illuminated euro sign is seen in front of the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in the late evening in Frankfurt January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

By John O'Donnell and Andreas Framke FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A group of 25 banks have failed European health checks, while up to 10 of those continue to have a capital shortfall, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday, providing a snapshot of the health of the region's lenders. The health checks, led by the European Central Bank, found that banks in countries including Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia and Portugal had fallen short of a minimum capital benchmark at the end of last year and that up to 10 remained in difficulty now, the sources said. Banks in Spain and France had fared, by and large, better than expected. The result, which has yet to be finalised by the ECB's governing council on Sunday, provides the most complete picture yet of the robustness of the euro zone's top 130 lenders. Those banks with shortfalls will now have two weeks to submit a plan to bolster their capital to the European Central Bank (ECB), which will decide whether or not it gets the green light. A spokesman for the ECB said the test results had not yet been finalised, describing reports in the meantime as speculative. "The results will not be final until they are considered by the Governing Council of the European Central Bank on Sunday 26 October, after which they will be published," he said. European banking shares dipped briefly on Friday after Bloomberg News reported that 25 banks within the euro zone would fail the ECB "stress test". Portugal's finance minister Maria Luis Albuquerque said on Friday that the Lisbon government was confident that the country's three largest banks had fared well in the stress tests. The Austrian finance minister Hans Joerg Schelling, said only Volksbanken AG was "stress burdened" and the test revealed no surprises, according to the Austria Press Agency. Volksbanken had already said it would wind itself down. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank passed the ECB-led stress test by a wide margin with a core equity ratio of 8.8 percent compared to a minimum requirement of 5.5 percent, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday. Juergen Fitschen, co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank and president of the BdB association of German private-sector banks, said the results probably gave his country's banks a clean bill of health. Shares in the Italian banks considered most at risk of failing the euro zone health checks, including bailed out lender Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena , were sharply higher on Friday as investors counted on them doing better than expected. "Investors are betting that one of the most problematic banks in the euro zone could pass the stress tests with fewer problems than previously thought," said Vincenzo Longo, strategist at broker house IG. (Reporting By John O'Donnell, Jan Strupczewski in Brussels and Andreas Framke in Frankfurt; Editing by Paul Carrel and Elaine Hardcastle)