MADRID/LISBON (Reuters) - Spanish lender Abanca said on Monday it has agreed to buy 95% of the shares in Portugal’s EuroBic, in which Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos has been trying to sell a 42.5% stake, in a bid to boost revenues.
Angola’s attorney general said last month that the country was considering asking Portuguese authorities to seize assets belonging to dos Santos, who is a suspect in a fraud investigation.
The acquisition, Abanca’s fifth since 2014 and its second in Portugal, is conditional on the completion of due diligence, Abanca said in a statement.
It did not disclose the price of the deal, while EuroBic could not immediately be reached for comment. Abanca Chairman Juan Carlos Escotet said last week his bank was mulling taking a controlling stake in the Portuguese lender.
Like other European banks, Spanish lenders are under pressure due to low interest rates. Some are searching to boost revenues through foreign expansion.
“We are betting on the Iberian peninsula,” Abanca’s Escotet said in a statement sent by the lender. “This (deal) ...allows us to significantly increase our business volumes by more than 11 billion (euros).”
By the end of December, EuroBic managed around 5.2 billion euros in credit as well as 6.15 billion euros in deposits, according to data provided by Abanca.
The acquisition includes a 37.5% stake in EuroBic belonging to Fernando Teles, the former chairman of Banco BIC Portugues, as the lender was previously known.
Portugal’s central bank (BoP) said in a statement it had been informed of the deal. It said the acquisition now needs approval from both the European Central Bank and BoP once further information has been received and analyzed.
EuroBic, which has a non-performing loan ratio of 6.4% - below the average across Portuguese banks last year of 8.3% - employs 1,482 people and has 184 branches.
The Portuguese lender said in January that dos Santos had decided to sell her shares EuroBic. Dos Santos holds significant stakes in several other major firms in Portugal, Angola’s former colonial power.
Another company in which she holds shares, Portugal’s engineering firm Efacec, also said last month that she would offload her controlling stake in the firm.
The decisions to withdraw from Efacec and EuroBic came after hundreds of thousands of files - dubbed the “Luanda Leaks” - were released by several news organizations last month.
Additional reporting by Sergio Goncalves; editing by Ashifa Kassam, Ingrid Melander