Bloomberg — Banco Santander SA was eliminated from the bidding process for Citigroup Inc.’s (C) Mexican unit, opening the way for a takeover by a local rival.
The Spanish lender made a non-binding offer for Banamex but has been informed it isn’t proceeding to the next stages of the process, it said in a regulatory filing on Friday. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said he wants Banamex to be taken over by Mexican owners.
Santander was the only foreign bank known to have made a bid for Banamex, with others parties interested said to include Mexican bank Grupo Financiero Banorte and billionaire Carlos Slim’s Grupo Financiero Inbursa SAB (GFINBURO).
Santander shares jumped 2.5% Friday in early Madrid trading, the best performing lender on the Stoxx 600 Banks Index.
Banorte, one of the country’s top four banks behind Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, is seen as a top contender to buy Banamex, or Banco Nacional de Mexico, which is valued at $4 billion to $8 billion. Adding Banamex would potentially make Banorte around the same size as BBVA Mexico -- or even bigger.
While president Lopez Obrador doesn’t have direct power to weigh in on the sale, he has said Banamex should go to Mexican investors and avoid mass firings. The buyer must also be up-to-date on tax payments and the bank’s art collection must remain in Mexico.
Citigroup’s largest branch network in the world is in Mexico and the decision to sell it is in line with CEO Jane Fraser’s push to simplify operations and focus on wealth management and US credit-card offerings.
Santander is Spain’s largest lender and does business in countries including the UK, the US, Mexico and Brazil. Earlier this year it appointed Mexican Hector Grisi as new chief executive officer with effect January 2023. The lender announced Thursday Felipe Garcia Ascencio will success Grisi.
Chairman Ana Botin and CEO Jose Antonio Alvarez have said the bank has a strong business in Mexico that can grow organically and would only go ahead with Banamex acquisition if the price was good.