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Spanish savings bank sells 1.6 pct Repsol stake

Source: Reuters - Wed 19th Jan 2011

Spanish savings bank CatalunyaCaixa has asked UBS to sell a 1.6 % stake in energy group Repsol, the investment bank said on Wednesday.

Traders said an indicative price for the stake of 19.9 million shares was 22.5 euros, making it worth around 450 million euros for the savings bank, which declined to comment on the rationale behind the sale.

In order to carry out the sale CatalunyaCaixa, the result of a three-way savings bank merger in the northeastern Catalan region, has unwound investment vehicle Repinves.

That unit held a total 5.02 % of Repsol jointly with savings bank La Caixa, a source at Repsol said, and CatalunyaCaixa was selling its part of that holding.

The remainder of the holding, some 41.45 million shares, will be bought by Criteria, a unit of La Caixa, UBS said.

Shares in Repsol, which closed at 23.0 euros on Tuesday, were suspended shortly after the statement and were due to reopen from 0900 GMT.

Spain's fragmented savings banking system, heavily exposed to a collapsed property market and rising bad debts, lies at the heart of concerns about the stability of the country's finances. The unlisted regional banks, which account for around half the system, badly need capital to flush out the effects of bad loans, bankrupt debtors and falling property prices from their balance sheets.

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