MADRID, June 29 (Reuters) - Spain's CNMC competition
watchdog on Tuesday approved the acquisition of Liberbank
by Unicaja, though the merged lender will have
to accept several concessions in its retail-banking arm in an
area in western Spain, it said.
The new entity need not divest any of its businesses, a CNMC
In December, Unicaja agreed to buy Liberbank for around 763
million euros ($908.20 million) to create Spain's fifth-biggest
domestic bank with total assets of around 110 billion euros.
The merger, part of a banking industry consolidation in
Spain and Europe, will reduce Spain's banks to 10 from 55 prior
to the 2008 economic crisis.
The CNMC said the new entity would not command an effective
monopoly in western area of Caceres, but cited some risk for
customers in three postal codes in this province, such as higher
fees for Liberbank clients.
To address this, Unicaja will offer its products for three
years on the same terms as those in areas where it competes the
Liberbank and Unicaja declined to comment.
The deal, which is expected to close by the end of the
second quarter or beginning of the third, also needs a green
light from Spain's Economy Ministry.
Shareholders of both lenders gave their blessing in December
to the transaction, which is underpinned by annual cost savings
of 192 million euros.
The market value of the merged entity is worth close to 2.3
The combined entity would have close to 9,800 employees and
close to 1,500 branches in Spain. They have not given any
details of potential staff reductions or branch closures.
($1 = 0.8401 euros)
(Reporting by Jesús Aguado; Editing by Emma Pinedo and Richard