Santander Said in Talks to Sell Stake in Asset Manager

Banco Santander SA, Spain’s biggest bank, is in talks to sell a minority stake in its asset management unit to U.S. private-equity firms Warburg Pincus LLC and General Atlantic LLC, two people familiar with the situation said today.

Talks are at an advanced stage and a deal could be reached soon, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the transaction isn’t public yet.

Santander has been selling off assets, including a stake in its Mexican bank last year and its Colombian lender in 2011, as it seeks to bolster capital ratios after absorbing losses on Spanish real estate holdings. The bank’s asset management arm had about 160 billion euros ($210 billion) of funds under management at the end of the first quarter.

The London-based Sunday Times reported the plans yesterday. A spokesman for Santander, who asked not to be identified in line with bank policy, declined to comment.

Santander’s former Chief Executive Officer Alfredo Saenz said in an April 25 news conference that the bank was in talks over for its asset management business with potential “partners” that may be interested in participating in a “bigger” project. The bank abandoned a previous attempt to sell the asset management and insurance businesses in 2008 because of market conditions.

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