MADRID Spain will next week formally seek advisors to steer the sale of part of its 68 percent stake in bailed out lender Bankia (BKIA.MC), a spokeswoman for the country's bank restructuring fund FROB said on Friday.
Government and banking sources had told Reuters earlier this month the Spanish government was considering selling a stake of as much as 18 percent during the first quarter of this year, aiming to start recouping part of the 22 billion euros ($29.8 billion) injected into the bank since 2012.
Bankia became a symbol of Spain's financial crisis, after the huge losses it and other banks suffered due to a property market collapse forced the government to take 41.3 billion euros in European aid to rescue the country's weakest lenders.
A source with knowledge of planning at the economy ministry and the FROB said the state would likely follow in the footsteps of UK Financial Investments, which first sold a 6 percent stake in Lloyds (LLOY.L) in September and is now looking at selling more, possibly including a sale to retail investors.
At the current market price, a stake of 18 percent in Bankia would be worth about 2.7 billion euros. Under a Europe-agreed restructuring plan, the state has until 2017 to exit the ownership of the bank. ($1 = 0.7373 euros)
(Reporting by Carlos Ruano; Writing by Julien Toyer; Editing by David Holmes)