Photo by Lee Woolcock
Representatives from around 20 banks are due to meet today with the Catalan government with the objective of reaching agreement on a new bond issue (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The aim of the issue is to create liquidity for the Catalan public finances and, above all, cover the €3 billion that the Generalitat will owe on other bonds that were issued last November and are due to expire in a few weeks. The Catalan department of economy, headed by Andreu Mas-Colell, wants to put up €3 billion (extendable to €3.8 billion) of bonds for periods of one, two and three years. The two sides will try to reach an agreement to be able to close the deal today for the new issue with an interest rate of around 4.75 percent on the one-year bonds. The government had originally wanted to issue them with an interest rate of 4.25 percent, 4.75 percent for two-year bonds and 5.25 percent for the three-year bonds, but financial experts said yesterday that the counter-proposal of the banks involved is to offer 4.75 on the one-year bonds, the same as the ones created last year.
The former president of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta, has said that he is in favour of a meeting with current president Sandro Rosell to seek a solution to the troubles facing the football club's past and present management (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). Speaking for the first time since current trainer Pep Guardiola talked about making peace at the club and the lawsuit brought by Barça soci (member) Vincenç Pla against Laporta and members of his board, Laporta insisted that he doesn't know Pla and instead said he was associated with some members of Rosell's board. "He's not working alone," Laporta repeated various times speaking on Catalunya Radio this morning. He also said on more than once occasion that he was grateful for the intervention and words of Guardiola, thanks to which, Laporta said, a halt had been put to the process of Pla's case before a Barcelona court; the lawsuit would have forced him and eight members of his board to pay a court guarantee (aval) of €24 million. "I hope that Pep isn't blemished by this... I'm eternally grateful to him," Laporta said. He went on to say that neither him nor anyone from his board had spoken to the current Barça board. However, he made a call to Rosell for them to try and find a solution to the conflict that would allow "my former colleagues to stop suffering and free them from this situation... I think it would be good to meet with Rosell, in public or private, wherever he feels most comfortable, to find a solution to this matter."
After the decision by the Spanish government to postpone the partial privatisation of the state lottery yesterday, it has now been decided to completely call of the sale (read article in Castilian here, El Periódico). Thirty percent of the company, which is one of Spain's most popular businesses and is said to be something of 'cash cow' for the government, was due to be launched on to the Spanish stock exchange in November, but the move was halted yesterday due to, according to the vice president Elena Salgado, the "unacceptable" price being offered by big investors. The governing Spanish Socialist party (PSOE) had hoped to raise between €7 and €9 billion from the sale, but realised that investors were not willing to pay this rate; according to market sources, the price being offered was around €5 billion. In turn, senior members of the opposition Partido Popular (PP) party suggested that if the PP takes power after November's general elections, a government headed by Mariano Rajoy would not recover the privatisation plans. There is common agreement between all the economic and political players involved in the proposed sale that the current market conditions don't lend themselves to the process.