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Report: Authorities cannot decide on BBVA-Bankia merger, Bank of Spain says

A potential merger between state-owned Spanish lender Bankia SA and peer Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA cannot be decided by the authorities and needs to come from the banks themselves Spanish financial daily Expansión quoted Bank of Spain Deputy Governor Margarita Delgado as saying Jan. 14.

Responding to reports that new Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had verbally agreed with the National Basque Party to push for a merger between BBVA and Bankia, with Bankia Chairman José Ignacio Goirigolzarri as its head, Delgado reportedly said it was up to banks to decide whether they wanted to merge and not up to the government. The paper also said she had been surprised by the merger suggestion.

"Mergers have to generate synergies and added value," Delgado was reported as saying when asked about reports of a potential merger. "A merger cannot be made at any price."

Delgado also reportedly said there was nothing "on the table" at the moment regarding a potential sale of Bankia, which is 61.78% owned by the state.

The bank is often the subject of takeover speculation as the state has a deadline of 2021 to sell the lender.

Bankia fell into government hands after it was bailed out for more than €20 billion in state funds following a €19.2 billion loss in 2012, just a year after the bank listed on the Madrid stock market.