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ECB to gain far-reaching powers as euro zone banks' supervisor

A man uses his mobile phone to take a picture of the euro sculpture outside the head quarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfur
A man uses his mobile phone to take a picture of the euro sculpture outside the head quarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfur

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The European Central Bank will attain significant powers over the euro zone's commercial banks once it becomes their supervisor later this year, including withdrawing bank licences and assessing acquisitions, it said on Friday.

From November, the ECB will supervise directly around 130 of the bloc's largest lenders as part of a broader push towards closer integration of Europe's banks that aims to create a more level regional playing field for the sector.

The region's other 5,900 or so banks will remain under the brief of national supervisors, though the ECB will have powers to intervene if it deems necessary.

"(The ECB) will be exclusively competent to grant and withdraw authorizations for credit institutions and to assess acquisitions of qualifying holdings in all credit institutions," it said in a draft document that laid out how the ECB and national supervisors will cooperate under the new Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM).

The ECB is running an in-depth review of the euro zone's 128 largest banks to check whether they have set aside sufficient capital to handle the risks on their books.

It will decide in September or at least two months before it takes on its new task on November 4, which banks will come under its direct watch. The list will then be reviewed annually.

If a bank does not meet any of the five criteria the ECB set out to define when a bank is deemed significant for three consecutive years, it will go back to being supervised by national authorities.

The chosen top banks will from November be monitored by joint-supervisory teams (JSTs) consisting of members from the national supervisor and the ECB.

A bank may ask the ECB to review any supervisory decision it adopted and may also decide to appeal the decision before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

(Reporting by Eva Taylor; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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