Santander or Bankia most likely to save Banco Popular

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SPAIN’S biggest bank Santander or state-owned lender Bankia are most likely to step in to save troubled Banco Popular, sources familiar with the talks told Reuters, although a deal is still far from guaranteed.

Popular is racing to find a merger partner after Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos ruled out a potential bailout with public money, while a capital increase is facing resistance from the bank’s existing shareholders.

Saddled with €37 billion of soured property assets, Popular has asked for binding offers by June 10 and aims to close a takeover by the end of next month.

The bank lost €3.6 billion in 2016 and has undergone three leadership shake-ups in less than a year. Its shares have fallen 65 percent over the past year and are the worst performers on the European STOXX banking index.

Santander, Bankia and BBVA all showed initial interest in Popular in a preliminary round of talks earlier this month.

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