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Barclays mulls Spanish insurance stake sale

A Barclays bank branch is seen in, central London on August 6, 2008. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico

LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays BARC.L said it is considering selling a stake in its Spanish and Portuguese insurance business.

Spanish newspaper Expansion said on Tuesday Barclays was looking to sell up to 50 percent of its insurance and pensions business in Spain and Portugal, citing market sources.

A spokesman for Barclays said: “Barclays can confirm that it is considering options to further develop its Iberian insurance activities.” He said the plans were at an early stage and a deal may not take place, and declined further comment.

Expansion said European insurers Aviva AV.L, AXA AXAF.PA and Aegon AEGN.AS were among the interested parties, citing market sources. The companies declined to comment.

Barclays is the biggest foreign bank in Spain and the sixth biggest overall with over 550 branches. It has expanded rapidly there and in Portugal, where it has 162 branches. It made a profit in Spain of 207 million pounds last year, but does not provide a breakdown of the unit’s profits.

Barclays has 2.4 billion euros ($3.5 billion) in assets under management in life and pension funds in Spain and Portugal, with a market share of 0.7 percent in life assurance and 1.3 percent in pension funds, Expansion said.

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