Malta and Luxembourg were the only two countries in the eurozone which did not see any decrease in the number of credit institutions between 2008 and 2012, according to a report issued this week by the European Central Bank.

There was a decrease of 10 per cent in the number of credit institutions, from 2,909 to 2,645, with Greece, Spain and Portugal seeing the largest decreases. Pronounced declines were also noted in France, Italy, and Cyprus.

At the end of 2012, the eurozone had 171,477 bank branches, a decline of over 16,200 units (8.7 per cent).

Banking sector assets in the eurozone on a consolidated basis, excluding very small entities, had dropped by almost 12 per cent compared with 2008. The assets stood at €29.5 trillion, with the major part of the adjustment taking place in 2009 as the crisis unfolded.

The share of loans in total assets fell in the majority of countries, especially in 2011 and 2012.

The ECB Banking Structures Report analyses the main structural developments in the eurozone banking sector from 2008 to 2012 and includes indicators for the first half of 2013.

On average, the eurozone had 158 inhabitants per bank worker in 2012, up from 145 in 2008. There remain large differences between countries in terms of the size of the banking sector in relation to the size of the economy.

Another fact to emerge from the report is that Malta has an ATM machine for every 2,128 people, compared with the eurozone average of 1,035. This is the fourth largest, with Finland having the sparsest ATM coverage with one machine for each 2,404 people. The most dense coverage was in Portugal, where there is an ATM for each 616 people.

The report is available on the ECB’s website (www.ecb.europa.eu/pub/pdf/other/banking- structures report201311en.pdf).

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