MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s Unicaja UNI.MC and Liberbank LBK.MC are holding informal talks about a potential tie-up to create the country’s fifth-biggest lender with over 100 billion euros ($117.13 billion) in total assets, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

“Informal talks between the two lenders are taking place,” the source said, adding that it was too early to say if that would lead to formal negotiations.

Both Liberbank and Unicaja declined to comment on the talks.

A source with knowledge of the matter said that Unicaja has not hired any investment bank to look into this potential deal and that no due diligence process was underway.

Both lenders have said in the past they are open to consolidation.

Earlier on Saturday, Bloomberg reported that Unicaja Banco was closer to a long-mooted takeover of Liberbank.

Last month’s all-share deal between Caixabank CABK.MC and Bankia BKIA.MC to create Spain’s biggest domestic lender created expectations of a new wave of mergers and acquisitions among Spanish banks, whose numbers have already fallen to 12 from 55 after the 2008 financial crisis.

Unicaja and Liberbank would have a combined market value of around 1.7 billion euros, according to data from Refinitiv.

Unicaja, with currently 63 billion euros in assets, and Liberbank, with assets of 45.8 billion euros, called off merger talks in May 2019 after the former savings banks failed to agree over a share swap.

European banks are under growing pressure to join forces to deal with rising bad debts and record-low interest rates as they battle the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

More flexibility from the European Central Bank regarding capital requirements could pave the way for more consolidation among banks in Europe.

Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo bought Unione di Banche Italiane UBI.MI, while Spain’s Sabadell SABE.MC has also held informal

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s Unicaja and Liberbank are holding informal talks about a potential tie-up to create the country’s fifth-biggest lender with over 100 billion euros ($117.13 billion) in total assets, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Unicaja bank is seen on the facade of a Unicaja bank branch in downtown Ronda, near Malaga January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo

“Informal talks between the two lenders are taking place,” the source said, adding that it was too early to say if that would lead to formal negotiations.

Both Liberbank and Unicaja declined to comment on the talks.

A source with knowledge of the matter said that Unicaja has not hired any investment bank to look into this potential deal and that no due diligence process was underway.

Both lenders have said in the past they are open to consolidation.

Earlier on Saturday, Bloomberg reported that Unicaja Banco was closer to a long-mooted takeover of Liberbank.

Last month’s all-share deal between Caixabank and Bankia to create Spain’s biggest domestic lender created expectations of a new wave of mergers and acquisitions among Spanish banks, whose numbers have already fallen to 12 from 55 after the 2008 financial crisis.

Unicaja and Liberbank would have a combined market value of around 1.7 billion euros, according to data from Refinitiv.

Unicaja, with currently 63 billion euros in assets, and Liberbank, with assets of 45.8 billion euros, called off merger talks in May 2019 after the former savings banks failed to agree over a share swap.

European banks are under growing pressure to join forces to deal with rising bad debts and record-low interest rates as they battle the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

More flexibility from the European Central Bank regarding capital requirements could pave the way for

MADRID (Reuters) – More than three quarters of Spain’s furloughed workers have returned to work since April, data from the Social Security Ministry showed on Friday, as the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy posted robust job-creation and unemployment figures.

Some 83,529 people left the ERTE furlough scheme in September, leaving 728,909 workers still enrolled, the data showed. That is 76% lower than the April peak, when more than 3 million people were supported by the programme.

Some 84,013 net jobs were added in September, an increase of 0.45% from August and the fifth consecutive month of job creation.

Over the same period, the number of people registering as jobless fell by 0.69%, or 26,329 people, leaving 3.8 million people out of work, according to the Labour Ministry.

Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz said it was the largest drop in jobless numbers recorded in September since 1996.

“These data show a positive trend in a still uncertain pandemic scenario,” she tweeted.

Unemployment had risen by 0.79% in August as new outbreaks of the coronavirus and travel restrictions imposed by other countries began taking a toll after months of timid recovery from an initial lockdown.

However, around 450,000 jobs were destroyed compared to September 2019.

(Reporting by Joao Manuel Mauricio in Gdansk and Nathan Allen in Madrid; Editing by Belen Carreno and Ingrid Melander)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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