The EU could tap sovereign wealth funds from Asia and the Gulf in order to boost the financial clout of its main vehicle to bailout eurozone countries suffering debt distress and prevent contagion spreading, it is understood.
Finance ministers from the 17 eurozone countries are discussing the option of creating a "special purpose vehicle" for the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) in order to boost its current €440bn (£383bn) lending capacity.
The idea, according to sources, would be to attract further money from official and private investors, with the sovereign wealth funds of countries such as China, Singapore or Qatar a prime target. Some of these already invest in European banks such as Barclays and UBS.
The only other option now being discussed is to turn the EFSF into an insurer that would offer to insure the first, perhaps 20%, of losses on new government debt held by private creditors such as banks.
These creditors are now locked in negotiations with senior eurozone officials over the scale of the losses they will have to suffer because of Greece's deteriorating debts. In July they volunteered to accept 21% but Jean-Claude Juncker, eurogroup chairman, now says: "We have agreed that we have to have a significant increase in the banks' contribution."
A "strictly confidential" report from Greece's "troika" of debt inspectors warns that the banks will have to accept 60% losses or "haircuts" if governments were to limit their second bailout to €109bn. It says Greece could require €252bn in support between now and the end of 2020 and, in a worst case scenario, this could rise to almost €450bn.
Meanwhile Silvio Berlusconi faces condemnation for his handling of Italy's economic problems when Europe's main Christian Democrat leaders hold their strategy talks ahead of Sunday's two summits, one for all leaders of the EU's 27 member states and another just for the 17 eurozone countries.
Nicolas Sarkozy is especially incensed by the Italian prime minister as French banks are heavily exposed to Italian bonds if, by any chance, serious contagion spreads from Athens to Rome.
The French president is also set to resume his cooling relationship with German chancellor Angela Merkel as the two plot to make the real decisions, in a private meeting today, about how to save the euro.
Please login to add to favorites
Already added to favorites
Added as Favorite