CaixaBank shareholders on Thursday, December 3, approved a planned merger with smaller rival Bankia which will create Spain’s biggest domestic bank once the deal is approved by regulators.
The move comes two days after shareholders in Bankia, Spain’s 4th largest bank, approved the proposed tie-up with CaixaBank, its 3rd largest lender.
The new entity, which is to retain the name CaixaBank, will hold a 25% share of Spain’s domestic banking market, with combined assets worth 660 billion euros ($790 billion) and 20 million customers.
Both banks said they merger was needed to be better positioned to deal with the challenges facing the banking sector such as low interest rates and growing competition from financial technology startups.
“The goal is to anticipate the demands of the current context,” CaixaBank president Jordi Gual said during an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting held in the eastern city of Valencia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the situation due to the worsening economic situation, he added.
The deal still needs the approval of Spain’s CNMC competition watchdog and the economy ministry, but the leaders of both banks are confident regulators will give the merger the green light, allowing them to implement it by the end of the 1st quarter in 2021 with full integration by the year’s end.
Under terms of the deal, Bankia shareholders will hold 25.8% of the new entity while shareholders in CaixaBank would hold 74.2%.
In 2012, the Spanish government saved Bankia from collapse, spending 22 billion euros to bail out a lender that was considered a symbol of financial excess when the economy was mired in crisis.
The Spanish banking sector has seen a decade of consolidation with dozens of mergers. The CaixaBank-Bankia tie-up will bring the total number of banks in Spain down to 11 from 70 a decade ago.
The latest attempt, to fuse BBVA and Banco Sabadell, the country’s 2nd and 5th largest banks, failed however.
While the new CaixaBank is set to dominate the domestic market, Spain’s biggest banks remain Santander and BBVA, both of which have bigger international operations. – Rappler.com
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