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Spain's big lenders shun CAM auction

Source: Reuters - Fri 25th Nov 2011

Spain's largest banking groups have decided not to make firm bids for insolvent Spanish savings bank Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo (CAM) creating further difficulties for the Bank of Spain which is trying to auction it, media reported on Friday.

The auction of CAM, which Spain's central bank took over in July, has attracted just one firm bidder for the whole of the troubled lender, mid-sized retail bank Sabadell , according to Cinco Dias and website elconfidencial.com.

Spanish newspaper ABC said fellow regional savings bank Ibercaja and U.S. fund JC Flowers had also made bids.

CAM, which is based in Alicante, has been battered by the collapse of the country's real estate sector, and subsequent economic downturn and euro zone sovereign debt crisis.

The Bank of Spain injected a total of 5.8 billion euros of state funds into the 135-year-old bank with a view to a sale, but finding private investors willing to take a chance on further possible asset impairment at the bank has been tough.

Spain's largest banks BBVA, Santander and Catalan bank La Caixa are interested in some of CAM's assets, such as its branch network, but none of them are prepared to take on the risk that a full acquisition would imply.

El confidencial said the Bank of Spain is left with the choice of handing CAM to Sabadell, breaking up the bank and selling its assets to different bidders, or declaring the auction void.

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