The rapid consolidation of Spain’s banking sector took another important step forward, after Caixabank revealed on Sunday night that it was buying Barclays’ Spanish operations for €800m.
The deal adds 250 branches and 550,000 new clients to the Barcelona-based group, along with assets worth €21.6bn. It will cement Caixabank’s position as the largest retail bank in Spain, and strengthen its footprint in Madrid, one of Spain´s richest regions and a longstanding target for the bank’s expansion drive. Caixabank is buying Barclays’ retail bank, wealth management business and commercial banking business in Spain, but not its credit card and investment banking arm.
The acquisition looks certain to bolster the increasingly dominant grip of Spain´s top three banks – Banco Santander, BBVA and Caixabank – over the nation´s banking market, at a time when optimism is rising that Spain is set for a period of above-expectation growth. It comes only weeks after BBVA snapped up Catalunya Banc, one of the last former savings banks nationalised by the government in 2012 that was still in state hands.
“[Barclays Spain] has a default ratio below the average in the sector and an increased solvency rate, demonstrating the high quality of its assets and its sound management,” Caixabank said in a statement. According to one person familiar with the deal, the UK bank’s retail operations in Spain also boast a particularly large share of well-off clients, with deposits of at least €100,000.
Gonzalo Gortázar Rotaeche, the Caixabank chief executive, said: “This acquisition will enable us to enhance our personal and private banking businesses in Spain, strengthening our counselling offer to our customers, and will enable us to accelerate organic growth due to the improving economic context.”
Antony Jenkins, Barclay’s chief executive, said in a statement: “We announced Barclays’ strategy update in May this year, creating the Barclays Non-Core cluster containing, amongst others, our Spanish retail banking business. We were clear that this business, while not central to Barclays’ strategy, could be attractive to another owner – and today’s announcement reflects that perspective.”
Morgan Stanley advised Caixabank on the deal.