April 6, 2018 / 12:38 PM / a year ago

Spain's Abanca looking at initial public offering in next three years

LISBON (Reuters) - Spain’s ninth-largest bank by assets, the privately held Abanca, is considering an initial public offering at some point over the next three years, its chairman and majority owner Juan Carlos Escotet said.

The Venezuelan billionaire said that Abanca was also studying a potential acquisition of the Spanish branch of state-owned Portuguese lender Caixa Geral de Depositos.

Banco Caixa Geral has been for sale since December.

Escotet owns an 87 percent controlling stake in Abanca, which last month agreed to buy Deutsche Bank’s private and commercial clients’ business in Portugal for an undisclosed sum.

Abanca’s structure and governance already met the European criteria for listed companies, Esctotet said. Its profitability was also strong, but now was not the best time to launch shares with low interest rates pressuring margins, he said.

“I think that within three years we can decide to go to the market... We are pro-market, we like the capital market,” Escotet told reporters.

Abanca, with assets of 50.8 billion euros ($62 billion), made a profit of 367 million euros last year, with a return on tangible equity (ROTE) at 10.3 percent. Its solvency ratio was 15 percent, above European Central Bank requirements and one of the three highest capital ratios among Spanish banks, according to Escotet.

In the next three years it plans to keep ROTE at around 10 percent and its core Tier 1 capital ratio at above 13 percent.

“In 2018-2020 we will focus on managing our setting to maintain high profitability levels with a solid capital position... Our capital strength allows us to take advantage of growth opportunities in the market,” he said.

Abanca has come to Portugal “in order to grow”, he said, noting the country’s “fantastic” economic recovery in the past four years after a debt crisis and a drop in the unemployment rate by nearly half since the crisis.

Abanca’s acquisition of Deutsche Bank business in Portugal will increase its loan portfolio and assets under management by 6.5 billion euros, adding 41 offices, mostly in Lisbon and Porto, to its network of 640 branches in Spain.

Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Susan Fenton

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