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Catalunya Caixa to restructure banking operations

Source: Reuters - Wed 16th Feb 2011

Spanish savings bank Catalunya Caixa said late Tuesday it has decided to restructure its banking activities to shore up its solvency and comply with Spanish and international rules.

Catalunya Caixa, the group created by the merger of three savings banks from the Spanish region of Catalonia, said in a statement its board has agreed to create a new retail bank which can obtain funding from public and private investors.

"The bank has agreed to form a bank which will allow it to increase its financial resources by attracting public and private investors," Catalunya Caixa said in a statement.

Spain is undergoing a rapid transformation of its banking system with the publicly funded regional savings banks, or cajas, being forced to raise private capital with listings or new investors after a disastrous spree of pre-crisis real estate lending.

The cajas are the focus of investors' concerns about the stability of the country's financial system and fears of an Irish-style bailout.

Another Catalonian bank, La Caixa, was the first caja to move to list its banking business following government demands that they increase private investment or face nationalization. Caja Madrid has also announced a restructuring of its banking assets.

The banks have until September to comply.

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