(corrects day to Thursday in lede paragrph)
MADRID, April 10 Spain is reviewing its strategy
to privatise nationalised lender Catalunya Banc, a spokeswoman
for the state's bank restructuring fund said on Thursday, as it
nears new asset sales.
The Spanish authorities, which have already injected 12
billion euros ($16.6 billion) into the failed lender, are likely
to try and auction off the bank around the summer, once it has
been restructured and downsized.
Like many Spanish rivals, Catalunya Banc was hit by soured
property deals. It needed part of a 41.3-billion-euro European
aid package and the state has already failed twice to return it
to private ownership.
"We're working on restructuring the deal in order to achieve
the highest possible return and make the sale of Catalunya Banc
more attractive," the bank fund's spokeswoman said.
Shedding the less attractive assets of the bank such as some
loan portfolios and branches would put the lender in better
shape ahead of the privatisation.
The spokeswoman for the bank fund's said Catalunya Banc had
now decided to put on the block a 7 billion euro portfolio of
mortgages for which it has received a lot of interest from
Citing sources close to the deal, Spanish newspaper El Mundo
had said on Thursday that the government was ready to extend 1.5
billion euros of public aid to help the sale of the portfolio.
The spokeswoman declined to comment on the report and said
the details of the sale were still to be defined. The economy
ministry and the Bank of Spain also declined to comment.
The Barcelona-based lender is also trying to sell a 1.5
billion euro portfolio of soured loans and a network of 200
offices outside its core Catalonia region.
Separately, newspapers Expansion and Cinco Dias said U.S.
fund Blackstone has agreed to buy Catalunya Banc's property
business for 40 million euros.
Catalunya Banc reported a 532 million euro profit for 2013 -
following losses of 11.8 billion euros in 2012 - after it was
cleansed of most of its rotten real estate loans and housing,
which were transferred to a government-backed "bad bank".
It had on its books assets worth 63 billion euros at the end
($1 = 0.7234 Euros)
(Reporting by Carlos Ruano, writing by Julien Toyer, editing by