Unicaja and Liberbank confirm “preliminary” contacts for their merger

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The banks are willing to continue at an accelerated pace with the consolidation process. Unicaja has confirmed this morning in a relevant event to the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) that it is in “preliminary” talks with Liberbank to study an operation. And, later, so has this second. Financial sources indicate that the contacts have been made at the highest executive level, that is, between Manuel Azuaga and Manuel Menéndez, respectively. With the numbers on the table, it would be more of an absorption than a merger, of the Andalusian firm on the Asturian.

“In relation to certain information appearing in some media, Unicaja Banco communicates that it regularly analyzes possible investment opportunities or corporate operations that could be of interest to all its shareholders”, the entity explained, to include the contacts below with the bank run by Manuel Menendez.

Likewise, Unicaja has highlighted that it still does not have external advisers to carry out the operation and that no firm decision has been made by the board of directors. In recent days, following information from Bloomberg, the name of Deutsche Bank was placed as Liberbank’s investment bank; this bank has not detailed anything in its relevant fact about external advisers. Financial sources, in any case, emphasize Liberbank has with the German firm a kind of flat rate to carry all operations, although there would still be no express mandate.

If this union is consummated, the fifth Spanish bank would be created by volume of assets (once the merger of Caixabank and Bankia has been carried out): Unicaja would contribute 62,970 million euros and Liberbank another 45,824 million. It would exceed 100,000 million in assets, thus surpassing Abanca and Bankinter.

Past operations

The truth is that the relations between the two banks come from afar. In May 2019, they broke up their merger talks due to not reaching an understanding on the exchange equation of the resulting entity.

They are old traveling companions who, with their union, would be able to spread throughout the national territory. Liberbank for its presence in the north of Spain and Unicaja for its implementation in the south of the country.

At the time, both banks calculated that they would have to do without around more than 2,000 employees and that the synergies they would achieve would lead to annual cost savings of up to 150 million euros. Now those figures could vary given the current situation of Covid.

The exchange equation, then, ruined the operation. It was speculated that Unicaja would keep around 60% of the new bank and Liberbank the remaining 40%, but the latter wanted a greater weight in the firm and the former was not willing to give up.

Market reaction

The market was already attentive to this operation. And, in fact, investment banks took it for granted that this would be one of the mergers / takeovers to be completed. Said and done.

Liberbank is already skyrocketing in Bag 16% and Unicaja is already around a 13% rise. Investors welcome this second attempt to integrate from banks of Asturian and Andalusian origin.



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