1. Introduction, basis for presentation of the consolidated financial statements and internal control of financial information

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1.1 Introduction

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. (hereinafter “the Bank” or “BBVA") is a private-law entity subject to the laws and regulations governing banking entities operating in Spain. It carries out its activity through branches and agencies across the country and abroad.

The Bylaws and other public information are available for consultation at the Bank’s registered address (Plaza San Nicolás, 4 Bilbao) and on its official website: www.bbva.com.

In addition to the transactions it carries out directly, the Bank heads a group of subsidiaries, jointly-controlled and associated entities which perform a wide range of activities and which together with the Bank constitute the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Group (hereinafter, “the Group” or “the BBVA Group”). In addition to its own individual financial statements, the Bank is therefore obliged to prepare the Group’s consolidated financial statements.

As of December 31, 2011, the BBVA Group was made up of 293 fully consolidated and 27 proportionately consolidated companies, as well as 73 companies consolidated using the equity method (see Notes 3 and 17 and Appendices II to VII).

The BBVA Group’s consolidated financial statements for the years ending December 31, 2010 and 2009 were approved by the shareholders at the Bank’s Annual General Meetings held on March 11, 2011 and March 12, 2010, respectively.

The consolidated financial statements of the BBVA Group and the separate financial statements of the Bank and of nearly all the Group companies for the year ended December 31, 2011 have not yet been approved by their shareholders at the respective Annual General Meetings. However, the Bank’s Board of Directors considers that the aforementioned financial statements will be approved without any changes.

1.2 Basis for the presentation of the consolidated financial statements

The BBVA Group’s consolidated financial statements are presented in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards endorsed by the European Union (EU-IFRS) applicable at year-end 2011, and additionally considering the Bank of Spain Circular 4/2004, dated December 22 (and as amended thereafter). This Bank of Spain Circular is the regulation that implements and adapts the EU-IFRS for Spanish banks.

The BBVA Group’s consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2011 were prepared by the Bank’s directors (at the Board Meeting held on February 1, 2012) by applying the principles of consolidation, accounting policies and valuation criteria described in Note 2, so that they present fairly the Group's consolidated equity and financial position as of December 31, 2011, together with the consolidated results of its operations and cash flows generated during 2011.

These consolidated financial statements were prepared on the basis of the accounting records kept by the Bank and each of the other entities in the Group. However, they include the adjustments and reclassifications required to harmonize the accounting policies and valuation criteria used by most of the Group (see Note 2.2).

All obligatory accounting standards and valuation criteria with a significant effect in the consolidated financial statements were applied in their preparation.

The amounts reflected in the accompanying consolidated financial statements are presented in millions of euros, unless it is more convenient to use smaller units. Some items that appear without a total in these consolidated financial statements do so because of the size of the units used. Also, in presenting amounts in millions of euros, the accounting balances have been rounded up or down. It is therefore possible that the amounts appearing in some tables are not the exact arithmetical sum of their component figures.

The percentage changes in amounts have been calculated using figures expressed in thousands of euros.

1.3 Comparative information

The information contained in these consolidated financial statements for 2010 and 2009 is presented solely for the purpose of comparison with information relating to December 31, 2011. It does not constitute the consolidated financial statements for the BBVA Group for 2010 and 2009.

As mentioned in Note 6, the BBVA Group's business areas were redefined in 2011. This involved changes to the structure current in 2010 and 2009. In order to make it easier to compare information against these years, the information for 2010 and 2009 has been reworked in accordance with the criteria used in 2011, as established by IFRS 8 "Operating Segments".

1.4 Seasonal nature of income and expenses

The nature of the most significant operations carried out by the BBVA Group’s entities is mainly related to traditional activities carried out by financial institutions, which are not significantly affected by seasonal factors.

1.5 Responsibility for the information and for the estimates made

The information contained in the BBVA Group’s consolidated financial statements is the responsibility of the Bank’s directors, who at times have to make estimates to determine the balances of some assets, liabilities, income, expenses and commitments recorded in them. These estimates relate mainly to the following:

  • Impairment on certain financial assets (see Notes 7, 8, 12, 13, 14 and 17).
  • The assumptions used to quantify certain provisions (see Note 25) and for the actuarial calculation of post-employment benefit liabilities and commitments (see Note 26).
  • The useful life and impairment losses of tangible and intangible assets (see Notes 16, 19, 20 and 22).
  • The valuation of goodwill arising on consolidation (see Notes 17 and 20).
  • The fair value of certain unlisted financial assets and liabilities in organized markets (see Notes 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 15).

Although these estimates were made on the basis of the best information available as of December 31, 2011 on the events analyzed, future events may make it necessary to modify them (either up or down) over the coming years. This would be done in accordance with applicable regulations and prospectivelly, recording the effects of the changes in the estimates in the corresponding consolidated income statements.

1.6 Control of the BBVA Group’s financial reporting

The financial information prepared by the BBVA Group is subject to a system of internal control (Internal Control over Financial Reporting or ICFR). Its aim is to provide reasonable security with respect to its reliability and integrity, and to ensure that the transactions carried out and processed use the criteria established by the Group's management and comply with applicable laws and regulations.

The ICFR was developed by the Group's management in accordance with international standards established by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (hereinafter, "COSO). This stipulates five components that must form the basis of the effectiveness and efficiency of systems of internal control:

  • Assessment of all of the risks that could arise during the preparation of financial information.
  • Design the necessary controls to mitigate the most critical risks.
  • Monitoring of the controls to ensure they perform correctly and are effective over time.
  • Establishment of an appropriate system of information flows to detect and report system weaknesses or flaws.
  • Establishment of a suitable control environment to track all of these activities.

The ICFR is a dynamic model that evolves continuously over time to reflect the reality of the Group’s business at any time, together with the risks affecting it and the controls designed to mitigate these risks. It is subject to continuous evaluation by the internal control units.

The internal control units within each company comply with a common and standard methodology issued by the corporate internal control units, which also perform a supervisory role over them, as can be seen from the following diagram:

The ICFR Model is also subject to regular evaluations by the Group’s Internal Audit Department and is supervised by the Audit and Compliance Committee. At the date these consolidated annual financial statements were prepared, no weaknesses were detected in the evaluation that could have a material or significant impact on the BBVA Group consolidated financial statements for the year 2011.

The Management Report accompanying these annual financial statements (Chapter 15 of the Annual corporate Governance Report) describes the internal control system in more detail.

1.7 Mortgage market policies and procedures

The additional disclosures required by Bank of Spain Circular 5/2011, applying Royal Decree 716/2009, dated April 24, 2009 (which developed certain aspects of Law 2/1981, dated 25 March, on the regulation of the mortgage market and other mortgage and financial market regulations) are set out in more detail in the Bank’s individual financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2011.