26 Jun 2012

Cyprus asks for financial help

11:16 am on 26 June 2012

Cyprus has told European authorities it intends to apply for financial assistance, the fifth euro zone member to do so.

It says it needs help to shore up its banks, which are heavily exposed to the Greek economy.

The country needs to find about €1.8 billion over the next few days to recapitalise its second largest lender, Cyprus Popular Bank, the BBC reports.

In a short statement, the government said that it required assistance following "negative spillover effects through its financial sector, due to its large exposure in the Greek economy".

Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said the amount of European aid would be subject to negotiations in the coming days.

Mr Stefanou said that, despite the request the government would continue negotiations for a possible loan from a country outside the EU, such as Russia or China. The country has already borrowed €2.5 billion from Russia.

Earlier, Spain formally requested a bailout loan for its banking sector, expected to be for up to €100 billion.

It says it intends to sign a memorandum of understanding for the package by 9 July and said the amount should be enough to cover all banks' needs, plus an additional security buffer.

The rescue, agreed earlier this month, is intended to help Spanish lenders recover from the effects of a burst real estate bubble and a recession, which have piled up bad loans and sinking property portfolios.

Some market economists believe it is merely a prelude to a full bailout for the Spanish state.

The announcements means Cyprus and Spain follow Greece, Ireland and Portugal in requesting assistance from emergency rescue funds set up for the euro zone.