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European banks borrowed €233bn from the European Central Bank, more than expected, in the final part of its programme to provide cheap funding to financial institutions.

The latest round of “targeted longer term refinancing operations” (TLTRO) were announced in March last year as part of stimulus efforts from the central bank.

The programme allowed banks to borrow in principle for four years at a rate that could fall as low as the deposit facility, which is currently minus 0.4 per cent.

The €233bn was split across 474 banks in Europe. There is no data for the breakdown across European countries, but analysts at Pictet estimated that peripheral banks are the most likely to benefit, assuming they could increase their lending.

The take-up took total amounts of the second TLTRO programme to €740bn, although more than half of this has been rolled over from an earlier programme.

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