Venezuela's Banesco to buy Spain's nationalized NCG Banco

MADRID Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:58pm EST

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MADRID (Reuters) - Venezuelan bank Banesco has won the bid for 88.33 percent of state-rescued lender NCG Banco CAJAFN.UL, Spain's bank restructuring fund FROB said on Wednesday, with an offer of 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion).

The auction was the first real test of how effective the country's banking cleanup has been after it was forced to take 41 billion euros in European aid last year to turn around its financial sector battered by a five-year economic slump.

Six binding offers had been made for the Galician bank. The top offer was 200 million euros above the second highest bidder, thus avoiding any need for a second bidding phase, the FROB said in a statement.

Some 40 percent of the offer would be paid on the formalization of the sale, while the remaining 60 percent would be paid in stages through to 2018, it said.

The acquisition, which will be completed once regulatory approval is given and includes two non-performing loan portfolios, came without guarantees of more public funds or any asset protection scheme to shield it against future losses.

NCG Banco took 9 billion euros in rescue funds from Spain and Europe and returned to profit in the year to September.

But deposits fell nearly 3 percent compared with the same period in 2012, and its non-performing loans as a percentage of total credit reached 16.7 percent compared to national average of 13 percent.

The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund said on Monday in reviews of the sector that Spanish banks were stronger and more solvent than before, though they said those still owned by the FROB needed careful monitoring.

The government aims to begin the sales process for another nationalized lender Catalunya Banc sometime next year. An attempted auction of the bank collapsed earlier this year when bidders asked for asset protection schemes.

The FROB has until 2017 to finalize the sale of Spain's remaining nationalized bank Bankia (BKIA.MC) under conditions agreed as part of the European rescue.

(Reporting by Julien Toyer; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Tracy Rucinski and David Evans)

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