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Banco Popular Holds Talks to Buy Citigroup Businesses in Spain

Spanish lender Banco Popular Espanol SA is holding talks with Citigroup Inc. to buy the U.S. bank’s retail and credit-card businesses in Spain.

Banco Popular, whose shares have recovered this year after an emergency stock sale in 2012, disclosed the negotiations today in a Spanish regulatory filing.

The bank’s chairman, Angel Ron, last month predicted that developments in loan quality are improving “radically.” The Madrid-based lender, which was forced to raise money last year to avoid a state bailout, has jumped about 34 percent in the stock market this year, beating the 14 percent gain in the 29-member Euro Stoxx Banks Index.

Separately, Barclays Plc, which has operated in Spain for about 40 years, is seeking an adviser to sell its Spanish banking unit, El Pais reported today, citing unidentified people. Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley may be best-placed for the mandate, the newspaper said. The report said Barclays has 2,819 employees and 271 branches in Spain.

Barclays officials don’t comment on speculation, spokesman Chris Semple said today when asked about the article.

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