UPDATE 1-Chile's CorpBanca confirms merger bids, control issue looms

Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:41am EST
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SANTIAGO Dec 12 (Reuters) - Chilean bank CorpBanca confirmed it had received merger offers but said it would only accept a bid that allows billionaire businessman Alvaro Saieh to retain some control in the bank.

Saieh owns about a 55 percent controlling stake in CorpBanca, Chile's fifth-largest and oldest bank, which also has operations in Colombia.

CorpBanca did not disclose the names of the bidders but said in a statement to securities regulator on Thursday that it was analyzing offers from "recognized banking operators" and that no agreement had yet been reached.

"Whichever one is implemented, the Saieh group will maintain a relevant shareholding and management control," it said.

Last week, Reuters reported that Brazil's Itau Unibanco Holding SA and Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria were the frontrunners in the pursuit of CorpBanca.

On Wednesday, Itau confirmed it was in talks with the Chilean bank, but the head of Itau's investment banking unit said that it had no interest in a minority stake.

BBVA, like CorpBanca, has significant operations in Colombia. A tie-up between the two would create Colombia's No. 2 lender, which could be the key selling point for a deal, analysts have said.

Canada's Scotiabank and Chinese banks have also shown interest in CorpBanca, according to local media reports.   Continued...