FRANKFURT/NEW YORK: Europe is working on an Amazon-style website to sell hundreds of billions of euros of bank loans which have been soured by the coronavirus crisis, in a bid to shore up the economy and challenge the dominance of big Wall Street debt investors.
The blueprint, devised by top European Central Bank (ECB) officials, is part of efforts by the 19-state euro zone to tackle a growing pile of unpaid loans and aims to prevent "distressed debt" funds from buying them at rock bottom prices.
"The idea is to open up the market to buyers of smaller portfolios, with an Amazon or eBay-style marketplace, where you can browse ... That can get the market moving," Edward O'Brien, a senior ECB official involved in the plan, told Reuters.
Large funds bought billions of euros of loans in the aftermath of the last financial crisis, in the process acquiring swathes of property some of which has since risen in value.
"The market for bad loans has been dominated by a few very large buyers. In a typical scenario, one of these firms may buy a very large portfolio at steep discounts," O'Brien said.
A study by Deloitte found that of the more than 450 billion euros ($529 billion) of loans sold in Europe between 2014 and 2019, roughly half were bought by Cerberus, Blackstone, Lone Star and Goldman Sachs.