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Santander puts Spain insurance up for sale

Source: Reuters - Tue 22th Mar 2011

Spanish bank Santander has put a majority stake in its Spanish life insurance and pension operations up for sale, Expansion newspaper reported on Tuesday, in a move echoing a Latin American deal last month. A Santander spokesman declined comment.

The euro zone's largest bank said in February it would use capital gains from the sale of a stake in its Latin American insurance operations to strengthen its balance sheet to meet global regulatory demands for deeper capital reserves.

Zurich Financial Services AG agreed to pay $1.7 billion up front for 51% of Santander's life insurance, pension and general insurance operations in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay in February.

Santander shares were 2.3% higher at 8.7 euros at 0858 GMT, in line with a 2.4% rise in Spanish banking stocks.

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