Anglo-Saxon hedge funds shorting on Madrid falls – EU data shows that Philip Falcone, the US hedge fund baron who led the assault on HBOS, has sold short €138m (£108m) of Banco Popular’s shares, or 1.65pc of the total float, through his fund Harbinger Capital.

He has short bets of €208m on Santander and €185m on BBVA. Blue Ridge Capital has targeted Bankinter and Popular. Calypso Capital Management, High Side Capital, Landsdowne, and Belgium’s Fortelus have all joined the hunt.

The Madrid positions are a way for funds to continue shorting banks in Britain, where Santander is now a key player after taking over Abbey National, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley.

Britain’s Financial Services Authority has suspended short selling of bank stocks, but Spain has not done so.

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