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J.C.Flowers still keen on Spain bank deal

Source: Reuters - Wed 8th Dec 2010

U.S. private equity firm J.C. Flowers said it still wanted to invest in Banca Civica once the Spanish caja, or savings bank, completes its merger with domestic peer CajaSol.

Interest from Flowers in the deal was seen to have cooled when its founder said he was not interested in investing in the bank until Spain had restored faith in its finances.

"We continue to be impressed with Banca Civica's unique business model" Chris Flowers, founder and executive chairman, said in a statement on Wednesday to clarify his firm's position.

"Currently, Banca Civica is in negotiations to merge with CajaSol. When these negotiations are complete, we hope to resume our own discussions with Banca Civica" he said.

"Although this is not an easy time for the Spanish economy, we remain optimistic about Spain's fundamentals and believe it offers attractive opportunities for investment."

In July, Flowers pledged to buy 450 million euros in convertible bonds in Banca Civica, when the caja failed a stress test and was told to raise capital.

If he backed away from the deal it would be a blow to the troubled cajas as Spain attempts to accelerate consolidation of the industry seen as needing capital after a severe recession.

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