In recent years, the financial sector in Andorra has experienced significant changes, with increased attention paid to bank failures and their potential impact on investors. As an international bank creditor, understanding the bank resolution process in Andorra and the measures taken to protect your investments is crucial.

Bank failure in Andorra is defined as a situation in which a bank is unable to meet its obligations to its depositors, creditors, and other stakeholders, leading to insolvency or significant financial distress. This may occur due to a variety of reasons, such as poor management, excessive risk-taking, or external economic factors. The most common reasons for bank failure in Andorra include poor corporate governance, liquidity shortages, inadequate risk management, regulatory violations and exposure to external economic shocks.

The determination of bank failure in Andorra involves a comprehensive assessment of a bank’s financial condition, including its capital adequacy, liquidity, and asset quality. The Andorran Financial Authority (AFA) conducts regular assessments and stress tests to monitor the financial stability of banks operating in the country. A bank is considered to have failed or be likely to fail if:

  • It is unable to meet its regulatory capital requirements.
  • It faces severe liquidity problems and cannot meet its obligations to depositors and creditors.
  • Its assets are insufficient to cover its liabilities.
  • Its management is deemed to be incapable of restoring the bank’s financial stability.

The AFA is the primary regulatory and supervisory authority responsible for overseeing banks operating in Andorra. The AFA has the legal mandate to determine whether a bank has failed or is likely to fail, based on the criteria outlined above. In cases where a bank is deemed to have failed, the AFA initiates the resolution process.

Stages of Recovery and Resolution Planning

The resolution process in Andorra involves three main stages recovery planning, resolution planning and succession planning.

Recovery Planning: Banks are required to prepare and submit recovery plans to the AFA, outlining strategies to restore their financial stability in case of distress.

Resolution Planning: The AFA develops resolution plans for banks deemed to be at risk of failure, detailing the measures to be taken to protect depositors, creditors, and the financial system.

Succession Planning: In cases where a failed bank is restructured or sold, the AFA ensures an orderly transition of operations and management.

Bank Supervision and Resolution Planning

The AFA aims to preserve critical bank functions and ensure the continuation of organizations during financial distress by implementing robust supervision and resolution planning. This involves conducting regular assessments, requiring banks to submit recovery plans, and developing resolution plans for at-risk institutions.

When a bank in Andorra fails, the AFA follows several steps to address the situation: activation of the resolution plan; assessment of the bank’s viability and potential resolution options; implementation of appropriate resolution measures, such as sale, merger, or restructuring; and coordination with relevant authorities and stakeholders to ensure an orderly liquidation process.

Options for Reorganization, Recapitalization, and Restructuring

Bail-in: A process where a bank’s liabilities are written down or converted into equity to recapitalize the institution. This method is typically used when public funds are unavailable or when the government is unwilling to use taxpayer money to rescue a failing bank. It aims to ensure that shareholders and creditors bear the burden of the bank’s losses, rather than taxpayers. The bail-in process can help restore a bank’s solvency, allowing it to continue operating and preserving critical functions.

Bridge Bank: A temporary bank established to take over and maintain the critical functions of a failed bank, before transferring them to a new entity or merging with another bank. The bridge bank is typically managed by the resolution authority or another designated party and serves as a short-term solution to prevent the sudden collapse of a failing bank. This approach ensures the continuity of essential banking services for customers, minimizes disruptions to the financial system, and buys time for a more permanent resolution, such as a merger or sale.

Asset Separation: The transfer of a failed bank’s impaired assets to a separate entity, allowing the remaining healthy assets to be restructured or sold. This method aims to isolate problematic assets, such as non-performing loans, from the bank’s core operations. By transferring these assets to a separate entity, often referred to as a “bad bank,” the failed bank can focus on its viable operations and potentially return to profitability. The bad bank, in turn, works to recover value from the impaired assets, either by selling them, restructuring them, or holding them until market conditions improve.

Merger or Sale: The acquisition of a failed bank by a healthier institution, ensuring the continuation of critical functions and services. This approach involves the transfer of the failed bank’s assets, liabilities, and operations to a more stable financial institution. The acquiring bank may choose to integrate the failed bank’s operations, merge them with its existing business, or sell off non-core assets. The merger or sale approach can help maintain financial stability and customer confidence, while also preventing the failed bank’s problems from spreading throughout the financial system.

Bank Liquidation: The process of winding down a failed bank’s operations and distributing its remaining assets to its creditors and stakeholders. In the case of bank liquidation, the resolution authority or a designated liquidator oversees the sale of the bank’s assets, with the proceeds used to pay off outstanding debts and obligations. This option is generally considered a last resort when other resolution methods are deemed unsuitable or unfeasible. Bank liquidation typically results in the termination of the bank’s operations and the loss of jobs for its employees. However, it can also help to remove a non-viable institution from the market, thereby promoting overall financial stability and protecting depositors and other creditors from further losses.

What’s Next…?

Activation of the Deposit Guarantee Scheme: The local deposit guarantee scheme in Andorra is activated when a bank is declared to have failed, and the AFA has determined that the bank’s assets are insufficient to cover its liabilities. The ADGF then steps in to compensate depositors up to the coverage limit.

Ensuring Orderly Exit of Non-Viable Firms: The orderly exit of non-viable firms from the market is determined through a combination of supervisory actions, resolution planning, and coordination with other regulatory authorities. The AFA ensures that the resolution process minimizes disruption to the financial system, protects depositors and creditors, and preserves the critical functions of the bank.