Fears are growing this weekend that two of Europe’s largest banks may require a bailout, having been hugely damaged by the worsening crisis across the eurozone.
In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy is having to confront the possibility that the country’s second-biggest bank, Societe Generale -commonly known as SocGen - is on the brink of disaster after huge losses over loans made to Greece.
The chilling possibility of the largest bank in Italy, UniCredit Banca, suffering a similar collapse if a bailout is not implemented comes as Silvio Berlusconi already faces an increasingly dangerous national economic situation.
In Britain, a senior Government source described the position of the two banks as ‘perilous’, although an official Treasury spokesman declined to comment. Should either bank collapse, British customers with deposits of up to about £85,000 would be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.