October 4, 2016 / 4:31 PM / 10 months ago

INTERVIEW-French finmin says Basel bank rules must be fair for European banks

2 Min Read

PARIS, Oct 4 (Reuters) - New bank capital rules being drafted by regulators from nearly 30 countries must not put European banks at a disadvantage, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told Reuters on Tuesday.

Bank supervisors have set a year-end deadline to complete the new banking rules - known as Basel III - to make the sector safer and avoid repeats of the 2008 financial crisis.

But some governments in Europe are worried the proposals would require their banks to hold significantly more capital against their risks.

"We've reached the limit, especially for European banks, of what can be asked of banks in term of regulation," Sapin said in an interview.

Europe is particularly sensitive to the new bank capital rules because lenders provide a much larger portion of financing for the economy than in the United States, where loans are often sold onto investors.

"We don't want discrimination against banking models over technical reasons," Sapin said.

Investors are already questioning whether banks in countries like Italy are holding enough capital and Germany has recently come into focus over concerns about the health of Deutsche Bank.

Sapin said that Europe was nonetheless not facing a "Lehman moment" because regulations had been tightened so much since the U.S. investment bank went bust in 2008. (Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Michel Rose; Editing by Ingrid Melander)

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