Spain’s Unicaja, Liberbank expect to complete merger in next few weeks

MADRID – Spain’s Unicaja and Liberbank said on Thursday they plan to complete their merger in the next few weeks as expected, shrugging off some alleged tensions between them reported by a Spanish news media outlet.

According to ElConfidencial, Unicaja would have hired a law firm to analyze the possible repercussions of a recent inspection by the European Central Bank on Liberbank’s foreclose assets, which would result in a “relevant” provision deficit.

On Thursday, Unicaja did not comment on that matter in filing to the stock market supervisor and neither did a spokerson.

Both Unicaja and Liberbank said on Thursday they were awaiting approval from Spain’s Economy Ministry to move ahead with their plans after recently securing the green light from Spain’s competition watchdog CNMC.

In December, Unicaja agreed to buy Liberbank for around 763 million euros ($908.20 million) to create Spain’s fifth-biggest domestic bank with total assets of around 110 billion euros.

Brokerage Sabadell on Thursday said reports from ElConfidencial were “negative news” for both lenders and would not disappear until the release of the second quarter results in the coming weeks.

“In this regard, and according to our conversations with Liberbank, the inspection has not revealed a deficit in provisions but rather recommendations regarding the process related to foreclose assets,” the broker said.

The brokerage firm also added that if a “relevant” provision deficit arose it would imply the need to make an extra adjustment on the foreclosed assets.

“This would immediately mean the need of a relevant event, an aspect that has not yet occurred.”

A spokesperson for Liberbank was not immediately available.

Shares in Liberbank fell 2.5% after the news, while Unicaja fell 1%.