In a shocking representation of just how bad things are in Europe, the FT reports that major European industrial concern Siemens, pulled €500 million form a large French bank, which is not BNP and leaves just [SocGen|Credit Agricole] and deposited the money straight to the ECB. The implications of this are quite stunning, as it means that even European companies now refuse to work directly with their own banks, and somehow the ECB has become a direct lender/cash holder of only resort to private non-financial institutions! As Bloomberg reports further on the FT story, in total, Siemens has deposited between 4 billion euros and 6 billion euros, mostly through one-week deposits, with the ECB, FT says, cites the person. It isn’t clear from which bank Siemens withdrew its deposits, per the FT... but it is hardly difficult to figure out. BNP Paribas isn’t the bank involved, FT reports, cites unidentified person familiar with the bank. This story should be having far more impact on the EURUSD than any rumors about Greece lying it will fire all of its public workers only to make sure Eurobanks can survive one more day.
More from the FT:
The company’s move came almost a year after Europe’s largest engineering conglomerate prepared itself for a future financial crisis by launching its own bank, an unusual move for an industrial group outside the car sector, where companies run big car financing and leasing businesses.
In an interview last December, Roland Châlons-Browne, chief executive of Siemens’ financial services unit, said its banking business would enable the group to tap the central bank for liquidity and deposit cash at the ECB.
“In the case of another financial crisis, we will be able to broaden our flexibility and take out risk with our own bank,” Mr Châlons-Browne said at the time.
Siemens does not only use the ECB as a haven; it also gets paid a slightly higher interest rate than it would get from a commercial bank.
The ECB paid an average interest rate last week of 1.01 per cent for its regular offers of one-week deposits, under which it withdraws from the financial system an amount of liquidity equivalent to the amount it has spent on eurozone government bonds.
Update: reader Arnold informs us that Siemens was lucky enough to be the functional equivalent of a Goldman Sachs ATM (you know, Goldman as an FDIC insured "depository" organization) when back in 2010 it got a bank license:
At the end of 2010, Siemens was granted authorization by the German Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) to operate banking business in Germany.
Through its loan business, Siemens Bank expands the product range of Siemens’ Financial Services unit, especially in sales financing. In addition, the deposit business of the bank increases flexibility in the area of corporate financing and provides the opportunity for the further optimization of risk management.
Siemens Bank is based in Munich and will be located in Germany only for the time being. Cross-border activities are planned in future. European countries will be the initial focus of such activities. Select emerging markets are additional focal points.
Siemens Bank is a subsidiary of Siemens AG and acts as an independent company. Nonetheless, it profits from its inclusion in the network of Siemens Group’s financial services companies. The bank employs about 100 people, mainly experts from the areas of risk management and risk controlling as well as specialists from loan origination & structuring.