Spanish lenders Unicaja and Liberbank call off merger talks

Eugenia Jiménez
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Spanish lenders Unicaja and Liberbank call off merger talks

The process of merger of the two Spanish banks Unicaja and Liberbank was cancelled on Tuesday after the two lenders said they could not reach a deal over the terms of a share swap.

Merger talks started in the summer of 2018 which, in the case an agreement had been reached, would have created Spain's sixth-largest bank with around 100bn in assets and headquartered in the Andalusian city of Malaga.

According to sources close to the matter, Unicaja wanted to take a 60% stake in the new entity, a proposal rejected by Liberbank, which was talking of a 55% instead, leaving itself with a minority stake of 45%.

The parties have not reached a agreement on the possible share swap, so the board of Unicaja Banco unanimously decided to end the negotiations,” Unicaja Banco said in a statement.

Last month, in a bid to accelerate the operation, both the president of Unicaja Manuel Azuaga and the chief executive officer of Liberbank Manuel Menéndez had met with the European Central Bank in Frankfurt to present all the details on the merger project.

Unicaja and Liberbank announced they had begun discussions about a possible merger at the end of 2018.

Liberbank was created out of the merger of three regional savings banks in 2011, in the midst of Spain's banking crisis.

Unicaja, based in the Andalusian city of Málaga, was created from the merger of five local savings banks in 1991.