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The consolidation of the banking sector in the eurozone continues, according to the ECB

Bank consolidation in the eurozone continues and the number of credit institutions continued to decline in 2016, reaching a 25% decline since 2008, according to a report on the financial structures published today by the European Central Bank (ECB).

Frankfurt (Germany), Oct 23 (EFE) .- The banking consolidation in the eurozone continues and the number of credit institutions continued to decline in 2016, reaching a decrease of 25 % since 2008, according to a report on financial structures published today by the European Central Bank (ECB).

The study indicates that, on an unconsolidated basis, of credit at the end of 2016 was 5,073 compared to 5,474 at the end of 2015.

On a consolidated basis - in which entities belonging to the same group count as one - there were 2,290 credit institutions at the end of 2016 compared to 2,379 in 2015 and 2,904 in 2008.

Only last year closed 6,939 bank branches in the area, according to the report. total of the national banks of the eurozone reached 24.2 trillion euros, on a consolidated basis, at the end of 2016, an increase of 0.5% with respect to the previous year and a decrease of 14% compared to 2008.

The total lending activity of banks in the area grew at a "moderate pace" of 1% last year, the study notes.

debt in total bank sector funds continued to contract, due to the reduction of the number of national public bonds in many euro area countries as a consequence of the financial crisis and of the ECB's debt repayment program.

With respect to liabilities, the "depository funds" trend grew more strongly in 2016, when the average share of customer deposits in total liabilities increased by 7 points to 52%.

The regulatory capital solvency ratios CET1, indicator of benchmark to measure the solvency of banks, "continued to grow" in the eurozone entities, mainly due to the increase in capital, says the study.

The ratio CET1 "phased-in" - which measures what the regulator considers mandatory in a given period of time - rose to 15.4% in 2016 from 14.4% in 2015.

The profitability of the sector remained "relatively low" in that year as "structural inefficiencies" continue to "hamper profitability in many countries" in the area, according to the report.

The study notes that, although the ratio of average delinquencies continued to fall, uncollected or doubtful loans remain "persistently high" in some countries.

The overall size of the eurozone's financial sector in March 2017 stood at 76.2 billion euros, compared to 70.8 billion euros in December 2015 and 55 billion in December. 2008.

While the "relative importance" in the insurance, pension fund, money market fund and other non-bank financial intermediaries sector has "grown uninterrupted "since the start of the financial crisis," there seems to have been a pause in this trend recently, "says the ECB.

In terms of total assets, participation of the non-banking financial sector as a whole has gone from 43% in 2008 to 55% in early 2017.

Growth in the investment fund sector, "which underpins much of the expansion of the non-banking financial sector since the global financial crisis, "continued its upward trend in 2016, the report says.

Total assets in investment funds, excluding money market funds, increased by 7% in 2016 and grew close to 160% since 2008.

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