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Spain's Banco Base members may vote to split

Source: Reuters - Wed 30th Mar 2011

The four savings banks to make up Banco Base, Spain's third largest savings bank, may vote to split the group on Wednesday over disagreements surrounding the merger details, newspaper Vanguardia reported.

Banco Base applied on Tuesday for a cash injection of 2.8 billion euros from state funds, twice the 1.4 billion euros the Bank of Spain estimates it needs to meet new minimum core capital demands.

Members of Caja de Ahorros de Mediterraneo, Cajastur, Caja Cantabria and Caja Extremadura are likely to vote against the merger when they each meet on Wednesday, the newspaper said citing sources at the four groups.

A spokesman from CAM declined to comment ahead of the group's meeting, while no one was available for comment at the other savings banks.

The collapse of the accord would be the first savings bank merger to fail after last year's bank sector restructuring cut the number of savings banks, badly hit by the property bust, to 17 from 45.

Spain, battling to avoid becoming the largest euro zone state to need an international bailout, has demanded banks boost capital reserves to new minimum levels to reassure markets on the stability of the country's financial system.

The Bank of Spain estimates the banking system needs 15 billion euros to bring capital reserves up to minimum levels.

Banco Base accounts for around 4 percent of the Spanish banking system.

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