Spain is preparing to become the fourth eurozone nation to seek emergency assistance as the currency bloc's finance chiefs plan weekend talks on potential aid to shore up the nation's lenders.
European Central Bank Vice President Vitor Constancio said Friday that a Spanish request was "awaited" and would be "exclusively directed at the recapitalization of banks." The bid may come as soon as Saturday, when finance ministers are to hold a conference call, according to a person familiar with the plans who declined to be identified because the matter is confidential.
The prospect of action underscores officials' concerns that Greek elections on June 17 may unsettle investors as Spain struggles to persuade markets it can protect troubled banks and finance its budget deficit. The country's credit rating was cut three grades by Fitch Ratings on Thursday, hours after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said for the first time that he was discussing with European leaders how to help Spanish banks.