“All the private equity firms in Spain, and from abroad, have looked over the portfolios of the savings banks in detail, but there haven’t been many deals,” says Mikel Bilbao, a partner at private bank GBS Finance.

“Initially savings banks were selling to recover their costs. They were reluctant to sell at a discount because of the impact on the profit and loss account”, explains Bilbao. ” They did not want to show losses because it immediately made them look weak. Now they really do need liquidity, and that outweighs the profit and loss account impact”.