| SAO PAULO/SANTIAGO
SAO PAULO/SANTIAGO Dec 4 Billionaire Alvaro
Saieh is close to finalizing a merger deal for Chile's CorpBanca
, in which he has a controlling stake, two sources with
knowledge of the deal told Reuters, with Spain's Banco Bilbao
Vizcaya Argentaria and Brazil's Itau Unibanco Holding
SA the frontrunners.
CorpBanca said last week that it was studying a possible
merger with a local or foreign bank. The deal could be worth
about $5 billion, a report said.
The bidders are looking to buy a stake that is big enough to
allow for control of the bank, one source said.
Local media reports said that Saieh, who according to
Reuters data owns a 55 percent controlling stake in CorpBanca,
is keen to remain as co-controller of the merged bank.
Saieh, who controls CorpBanca via the wider CorpGroup, has
been seeking to raise cash since an accounting error led his SMU
retail company to breach debt covenants earlier this year.
He is in New York and is looking to close the deal this week
or by early next week, one source said.
BBVA, which like CorpBanca has significant operations in
Colombia, is edging ahead of Itau in the talks, newspaper Diario
Financiero said on Wednesday.
CorpBanca, Itau and BBVA declined to comment.
Shares of CorpBanca, which hit an all-time low in August,
have since recovered around 40 percent. They were trading up 1.1
percent at 6,751 pesos on Wednesday, valuing the company at
about 2.29 trillion Chilean pesos ($4.29 billion).