Three companies have already requested more than 700 million from the Government rescue fund | Economy


SEPI headquarters, in Madrid.
SEPI headquarters, in Madrid.

First, the request for help from Duro Felguera to the public fund for the rescue of strategic companies worth 100 million was known. Days later, Air Europa announced it, requesting 400 million to save itself from bankruptcy. And there is already a third company, in just one month since the fund is available, that has made the formal registration in the State Society of Industrial Participations (SEPI), although it has not yet transpired what it is. Between the three they exceed the 700 million euros requested from the Government.

With the trio of formal requests, the amount exceeds 7% of the initial amount with which the fund (10,000 million) created by the Government has been endowed, according to market sources. In addition, there are three other companies that have already started the previous process, with which the request would be around 1,000 million euros. “They are in a preliminary phase, at the opening of the prior information period,” these sources explain. That is, there is an interest and if they meet the requirements they will end up submitting their petition.

The SEPI, consulted by EL PAÍS, has not clarified which is the third requesting firm or the other three that are in the preliminary phase. “For confidentiality reasons we cannot go into particular details. There are deadlines that have to be met and then both SEPI and the companies are obliged to report after agreeing on the conditions ”, explains a spokesperson for the company.

The companies that have shown interest to date are, for the most part, from the most affected sectors: tourism and transport especially. The collapse of international tourism due to the pandemic and the abrupt reduction in people’s mobility has left many companies in the balance that at the end of 2019 were solvent and are now reeling.

That is precisely one of the requirements for the Government to be able to give these State aid: that they be viable before the coronavirus. It is also mandatory that they be strategic for the country, that is, that they justify that a “forced cessation of activity would have a high negative impact on economic activity or employment, at the national or regional level,” says the State official newsletter in the agreement of the Council of Ministers of July 21.

Among the other requirements, it stands out that they have to demonstrate their viability in the medium and long term, with a forecast of reimbursement of state support, as well as that they have their headquarters and work centers in Spain. This injection is endorsed by Brussels in an exceptional way, as a buffer against the deterioration of the economy during the coronavirus crisis. In this way, Europe intends to prevent the fall of viable strategic companies in the Old Continent.

Avalanche in 2021

Thus, in a month (applications can be submitted from August 8) there are already three requests and another three under study. A reduced baggage compared to the total still, although a massive arrival is expected for the first quarter of 2021. “The impact of the coronavirus has not ended and the blow will be seen when they close accounts in December. Common sense says that the flood of applications will arrive at the end of the first quarter of next year, “argue market sources.

At the moment, many of the candidates are being financed with ICO lines and other aid. The problem is that these support measures have a deadline that will be met in a few months in some cases and that is when the fund comes into play. To which is added another obstacle: the deadline for the concessions is June 30, 2021, although according to sources from the Administration, work is already underway to extend that term and allow time to analyze all cases. In addition, given the avalanche that is expected, a question arises: will the 10,000 million be enough? “The macroeconomic data say that the fall will be higher than that amount, so it is possible that a higher amount will be requested. Although there is the possibility that the initial amount will be increased ”, explain market sources.

Air Europa and its sale to IAG

One of the controversial questions on the merits is what can happen if a company agrees to help and then merges or sells to another company. According to the regulations of the rescue fund, the State has several mechanisms to offer its support. One of them is entering the capital, and in this or other formulas it will be able to impose conditions and have the capacity to veto in future decisions if it is so agreed.

In the event that it enters the capital of a company, as could happen with Air Europa, if it is sold before repaying the amount loaned, the State will have to receive its participation at the repurchase price that is higher than the following two: “The market price at the time of redemption” or “the nominal investment charged to the Fund increased by an annual remuneration equal to the sum of 200 basis points (except in the eighth and subsequent years)”. In this way, the Government tries to ensure that it recovers the amounts contributed and, in addition, that it will do so quickly, since the refund will be greater the longer it elapses.

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