Shares in Unicaja Banco and Liberbank were star performers on Spain's stock exchange this week after both companies announced that they were in talks about a possible merger. Their share prices rose between 14 and almost 16 per cent.
Unicaja Banco, which is based in Malaga, is currently Spain's seventh biggest banking group and a merger with Liberbank would put the new company in seventh place, above Bankinter and below Bankia.
Unicaja has assets of 56.8 billion euros and Liberbank 39.1 billion euros, meaning that the Malaga company would be the controlling entity in any deal. Liberbank was formed by the merger of various former savings banks in central and northern Spain during the financial crisis. Between them they would have 10,849 employees and 1,866 branches with hardly any geographical overlap and market-leading positions in many areas.
Both companies have stressed in statements that the talks are not at an advanced stage and no formal offer is on the table.
Unicaja Banco had profits of 142 million euros in the first nine months of this year, up 18.4 per cent on a year earlier.