Soros, foreign funds back Bankia stake sale: source

Mon Mar 3, 2014 2:31pm EST
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By Carlos Ruano

MADRID (Reuters) - Billionaire financier George Soros was one of the investors in bailed-out lender Bankia (BKIA.MC: Quote), after the Spanish government began selling down its stake, which was almost entirely placed with foreign funds, a source familiar with the process said.

Spain made a small profit last week on the sale of a 7.5 percent stake in Bankia, less than two years after it needed the country's biggest ever bank rescue and pushed the government to ask for 41.3 billion euros ($57 billion) in aid for weak lenders.

Soros Fund Management was among the six biggest investment fund buyers of Bankia shares in last week's offering, according to a breakdown provided by a source familiar with the placement.

Other major investors also included asset managers such as UK-based Schroders (SDR.L: Quote) and Henderson Global Investors, and Mainfirst Asset Management and Capital World Investors from the United States, the source said.

Only 1 percent of the shares were sold to domestic investors - including the asset management arms of Spanish banks BBVA (BBVA.MC: Quote) and Santander (SAN.MC: Quote) - with UK and U.S. investors among the biggest backers of the offering.

Hedge funds such as Duet Asset Management, Citadel and Och-Ziff also bought Bankia shares, the source said.

Bankia declined to comment.

The share offering, which attracted over 2.5 billion euros in demand, mostly from institutional investors, contrasts with Bankia's initial public offering (IPO) in July 2011.   Continued...

A travelling bank bus drives down the road after making its monthly call on customers in the village of Maderuelo, central Spain, June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Sergio Perez