Some of the eurozone’s biggest banks will need to raise more equity because of a clampdown on national exceptions to capital rules, the eurozone’s chief banking supervisor has forecast.

Danièle Nouy told the Financial Times that banks would have to raise more and better quality capital as a result of her new agency’s drive to harmonise more than 150 national variances in capital rules. Fresh legislation from Brussels is likely to also be needed, she added.

“Some banks still have to get more capital,” Ms Nouy, a former French central banker appointed last year to head the European Central Bank’s Single Supervisory Mechanism, said in an interview on Tuesday.

“It’s not so much about how much [capital] it’s about the definition of capital. There are too many, in my view, national options in the definition of capital in Europe and we have to address that. [ . . .] We may have to go to the legislature, to the European Parliament, to ask for more harmonisation in regulation.”

Her comments follow capital-raisings by eurozone banks earlier this year. Banco Santander raised €7bn in an overnight share sale in January, which bankers said was in part to cope with increased capital demands from the SSM, although the Spanish bank denied this.

Eurozone banks have recently been given updated capital targets by the SSM, which call for them to strengthen their balance sheets based on the results of last year’s ECB stress tests and asset quality review.

Italy’s Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the biggest failure of the stress tests, increased a planned capital raising by a fifth to €3bn this month.

“Top of the SSM’s agenda is standardisation of national discretions — they want to stop all that,” said one senior European banking executive. “There are questions about the quality of capital at Spanish banks, but also Greek and Italian banks.”

Greek banks were last year boosted by a change in the law allowing them to count more than €13bn of deferred tax assets towards their regulatory capital, following similar moves by Italy, Spain and Portugal.

But the SSM does not consider this “high-quality capital” as it relies on the states’ ability to repay the deferred tax assets if the banks were to collapse. Bankers said Ms Nouy’s agency had signalled that it would increase bank-specific capital buffers, called Pillar 2 requirements, to adjust for perceived weak capital areas.

“The SSM is seen as pretty robust,” said one investment banker who advises several large European lenders. “For the first time their regulator doesn’t speak their language.”

While about 80 per cent of the rules dictating capital are set at EU level, the 19 different countries across the currency bloc have discretion for the remaining fifth. Harmonisation of the rules would see banks’ accounts particularly hit in the areas of goodwill and how they model for credit and operational risk, as well as specific areas such as deferred-tax assets.

The SSM oversees the safety and soundness of 123 banks across the eurozone, taking over supervisory duties from national regulators last year. It has hired about 1,000 officials for the task, which ranges from reviewing banks’ capital, through making sure they are hiring “fit and proper” managers, to ensuring they pay out appropriate levels of bonuses.

Additional reporting by Laura Noonan in London

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