By Simon Miller

Spain has formally requested financial assistance to recapitalise its banks.

In a letter to the head of the eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers Jean-Claude Juncker, Spanish economy minister Luis de Guindos made a formal request “for financial help for the recapitalisation of Spanish financial institutions that may require it”.

News agency reports suggest that the country is looking for up to €100bn (£80.6bn), although a figure of €62bn has been mooted.

The letter aims to agree details and conditions of the loan before the next eurogroup meeting on 9 July.

Meanwhile, European Commission vice president Olli Rehn has instructed staff to “step up their work” in assessing the state of Spanish banks.

In a statement, the commissioner for economic and monetary affairs said the capital requirements recently estimated by Oliver Wyman and Roland Berger provided “a good starting point for this work”.

“I am confident that we can conclude an agreement on the memorandum of understanding in a matter of weeks, so that we can proceed with the restructuring effort,” Rehn added.

The commissioner said that restructuring of the banking sector was key to reinforce the confidence in the Spanish economy and to restore the conditions to proper access to credit by companies and households.

He continued: “The policy conditionality of the financial assistance, in the form of an EFSF/ESM loan, will be focused on specific reforms targeting the financial sector, including restructuring plans which must fully comply with EU state-aid rules. Conditionality will apply to banks being recapitalised and to the Spanish financial sector as a whole, including its supervision and regulatory requirements.”

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