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MADRID, May 26 (Reuters) - Spain’s Criteria, the parent company of Caixabank, said on Thursday it would reduce its stake in the lender to 40 percent from 56.8 percent by the end of 2017 to avoid stricter regulations.
Criteria wants to lower its stake to below 50 percent to bypass banking regulations aimed at loosening the tie between Spain’s banking foundations -- old savings banks, such as the La Caixa group which owns Criteria -- and traded banks such as Caixabank.
Under the rules passed by the Bank of Spain last year, holding companies like Criteria that hold majority stakes in banks are subject to the same regulations as lenders and have to diversify their investments and create a reserve fund.
“The reduction will facilitate the entry of new investors and new funds into the shareholder structure of Caixabank,” a filing from Criteria with the Spanish stock market regulator said.
The La Caixa group also has large stakes in other businesses including Spanish firms Gas Natural and Abertis through Criteria, and Repsol and Telefonica through Caixabank.
Reporting by Angus Berwick and Tomás Cobos; Editing by Alexandra Hudson