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World's richest man buys into Spanish banking

Source: Reuters - Wed 11th May 2011

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, has bought almost 1 million shares in Spain's Criteria Caixacorp just as it is set to become CaixaBank, El Pais newspaper reported in its online edition, citing sources.

The purchase could help make Slim one of the main shareholders in CaixaBank, the new banking unit of La Caixa, Spain's biggest savings bank by branch network, which is due to trade on the Madrid stock exchange in July, the paper said.

Last year, Slim joined the board of Barcelona-based Criteria after the holding bought a 20% stake in the magnate's financial group Inbursa , the paper added.

A spokesman for Slim was not immediately available for comment in Mexico City.

Spain has forced its savings banks, known as 'cajas,' to raise their capital to among the highest levels in Europe as it seeks to reassure investors on the stability of its financial system.

Slim, who topped the list of Forbes' richest people for the second year in a row this month, oversees an empire that ranges from coffee shops to mining and telecoms, and he continues to expand his reach.

After buying fixed-line phone company Telefonos de Mexico in 1990, he has gone on to hold stakes in companies including department store operator Saks Inc , publisher New York Times Co , oil services company Bronco Drilling and money manager BlackRock Inc .

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