Spain savings bank Ibercaja to acquire Caja 3

MADRID Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:30pm EST

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MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish savings bank Ibercaja Banco will take over peer Banco Grupo Caja 3 to a form a new group with 65 billion euros ($84.3 billion) in assets, the two lenders said on Thursday.

The acquisition will go ahead once Caja 3's restructuring plans are approved, the banks said.

Caja 3, formed from three savings banks, has to show how it will raise the 779 million euros ($1 billion) an independent audit showed it needed in case of a serious economic downturn.

"With this agreement, the two banks will merge in response to new demands in the economic, financial and regulatory environment," Ibercaja and Caja 3 said in a statement.

The newly formed group will have 1,622 offices and a capital ratio of 10.22 percent, the banks said.

Earlier this year Spain sought a 100 billion euro credit line for its financial sector from Europe, crippled after a property boom turned to bust five years ago.

The independent audit of Spain's financial sector released in September showed Ibercaja needed to beef up its capital by 226 million euros to weather a downturn.

An earlier plan to merge three entities - Ibercaja, Liberbank and Caja 3 - was called off after the audit revealed the potential group had a combined deficit gap of 2.1 billion euros.

The European Commission said this week that three nationalized Spanish banks will more than halve their balance sheets in five years, cut staff and impose losses on bondholders as part of terms of the bank rescue.

(Reporting by Clare Kane and Andres Gonzalez; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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