foreign funds back Bankia stake sale: source
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[March 04, 2014]
By Carlos Ruano
MADRID (Reuters) — Billionaire
financier George Soros was one of the investors in bailed-out lender
Bankia <BKIA.MC>, after the Spanish government began selling down
its stake, which was almost entirely placed with foreign funds, a
source familiar with the process said.
Spain made a small profit last week on the sale of a 7.5 percent
stake in Bankia, less than two years after it needed the country's
biggest ever bank rescue and pushed the government to ask for 41.3
billion euros ($57 billion) in aid for weak lenders.
Soros Fund Management was among the six biggest investment fund
buyers of Bankia shares in last week's offering, according to a
breakdown provided by a source familiar with the placement.
Other major investors also included asset managers such as UK-based
Schroders <SDR.L> and Henderson Global Investors, and Mainfirst
Asset Management and Capital World Investors from the United States,
the source said.
Only 1 percent of the shares were sold to domestic investors — including the asset management arms of Spanish banks BBVA <BBVA.MC>
and Santander <SAN.MC> — with UK and U.S. investors among the
biggest backers of the offering.
Hedge funds such as Duet Asset Management, Citadel and Och-Ziff also
bought Bankia shares, the source said.
Bankia declined to comment.
The share offering, which attracted over 2.5 billion euros in
demand, mostly from institutional investors, contrasts with Bankia's
initial public offering (IPO) in July 2011.
Then Bankia — created in 2010 through the merger of seven regional
savings banks — struggled to attract commitments from professional
investors. It relied heavily on demand from small retail buyers,
including many ordinary Spaniards and savers who bought the shares
in bank branches following an aggressive marketing campaign.
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Hundreds of thousands of these investors lost most of their money
when the bank came close to collapse less than a year later and
needed a 22.5 billion bailout.
Senior government sources have told Reuters the state could reduce
its stake in several stages, with more sales possible later in the
year, but would keep control of the bank until its restructuring,
agreed with Europe, is completed.
Spain has to exit Bankia by 2017 and the timing for any more sales
will likely depend both on the share price as well as on the
progress of its recovery plan, which involves shedding staff and
offices as well as shrinking its balance sheet.
UBS, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley were bookrunners on Friday's
($1 = 0.7260 euros)
(Writing by Sarah White; editing by
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