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Merger between Unicaja and Liberbank is called off

A Liberbank branch in Malaga.
A Liberbank branch in Malaga. / SUR
  • Unicaja was asking for 60 per cent of the new group, but Liberbank wanted more than the 40 per cent offered; both boards voted to end the talks

The dream of creating one of Spain's biggest banking groups with a likely head office in Malaga was over this week.

The respective boards of Unicaja Banco and Liberbank voted to end the talks between them in a disagreement over what share of the new group would go to Liberbank, and hence the value to Liberbank's shareholders of the deal.

Unicaja Banco, based in Malaga, had almost 7,000 employees in 2018, 3,000 more than Liberbank, and its profits were 142 million euros, compared to Liberbank's 108 million. Unicaja was turned into a publicly-quoted bank, losing its savings bank status, as part of the shake up of the Spanish banking system after the recent financial crisis. Directors were hoping for a 60 per cent share of a group formed with the merger with Liberbank and to keep the head office in Malaga.

However, venture capital group Oceanwood, which is the largest shareholder in Liberbank, wanted more than 40 per cent.

No overlap

Liberbank is also a former savings bank that was forced to go public and the two banks were seen as a good fit as there is very little overlap in the branch network, as Liberbank is strong in the north.

The new company would have had joint assets of 97 billion euros and been the sixth biggest banking group in Spain.