Several major banks have made plans to return a significant proportion of the money they took out in cost-effective three-year loans from the European Central Bank (ECB) in recent months, it has emerged.
Towards the end of last year, the central institution decided to make such lending arrangements - which had interest rates of just one per cent - available to struggling financiers.
These products were taken on by hundreds of banks in two separate rounds of lending in December 2011 and February 2012, as companies sought to take full advantage of the opportunity to boost their ailing balance sheets.
However, professionals operating in the banking market have told the Financial Times today (2 April) that the likes of BNP Paribas, Socieite Generale, La Caixa and UniCredit are now planning to pay back up to 33 per cent of what they borrowed.
This process would take around 12 months to complete and would involve up to €100 billion ($133 billion) being returned to the ECB.
By Gary Cooper