Barclays sounding out buyers for Spanish retail bank: sources

Thu May 22, 2014 12:27pm EDT
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MADRID (Reuters) - Britain's Barclays (BARC.L: Quote) is sounding out potential buyers for its Spanish retail bank, people familiar with the matter said, adding that local peers and private equity firms could be interested in parts of the business.

Barclays earlier this month outlined a major restructuring and as many as 19,000 job cuts as it refocuses on its British and African businesses, investment banking in the UK and United States, and credit cards.

It will park its retail banking operations in Spain, Italy, France and Portugal in a "bad bank", and these will be sold, separated or floated.

Barclays is contacting potential bidders with preliminary information about the Spanish unit and confidentiality agreements, two banking sources familiar with the process said, adding no formal auction was yet underway.

"Everyone knows all (the European businesses) are for sale, but Spain seems to be priority or the one getting interest," one banker said.

Private investment firms are expected to vie for the retail network, three sources said. Centerbridge Partners, which bought loan servicing company Aktua from Santander (SAN.MC: Quote) in Spain and has been a bidder for debt packages being sold by local banks, could be among those interested, one of the people said.

Apollo Global Management (APO.N: Quote), which has bought Spain's small Evo Banco, could also be a candidate, the person said.

Spain's top banks, Santander, BBVA (BBVA.MC: Quote) and Caixabank (CABK.MC: Quote), would be among those approached, two people said, while two further sources said smaller Bankinter (BKT.MC: Quote) could want to pick up private banking operations from Barclays.

The Spanish banks, Barclays and Apollo declined to comment. Centerbridge could not immediately be reached for comment.   Continued...

Logos are seen outside a branch of Barclays bank in London July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville