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There has been increased commentary from Slovenian officials in recent weeks about the likelihood of seeking foreign assistance to clean up the country's banking sector. Unless ongoing stress tests reveal much larger than expected recapitalisation needs, we maintain that the sovereign should be able to go it alone.
However, we must respect what appears to be a change of tone from Slovenian officials on seeking foreign assistance. IF the government decides to seek foreign aid, we think it would be in the form of a European Stability Mechanism (ESM) package for the banks.
Here, we think Spain presents us with a broad template under which assistance could be given to Slovenia. Slovenia is prepared from an institutional capacity perspective should the government decide to ask for ESM involvement. We also believe the process should go through smoothly on the political front, especially now that opposition leader Janez Jansa has also thrown his weight behind the idea of asking for foreign assistance. Political consensus may fray at a later stage but for now it would not be an impediment should assistance be required.
ESM assistance would add to the Slovenian government debt- ESM direct bank recap is not currently available- but ESM assistance would leave the government's debt and deficit metrics on no worse a footing than if the government were to go it alone. The negative element of ESM involvement comes as its 'preferred creditor status' would subordinate existing debt holders. However, we believe this is outweighed by the enhanced credibility that the clean-up process will enjoy and the increased certainty that the market will have about the sovereign's funding situation. Moreover, any conditionality that follows ESM assistance would most likely be focused on the banking sector rather than intrusive budgetary conditionality on the sovereign. This should make seeking ESM help more politically viable at home.
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