Inbursa Drops as CaixaBank Weighs 10% Sale: Mexico City Mover

Grupo Financiero Inbursa SAB, the financial-services firm controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, fell the most in 21 months after CaixaBank SA said it may sell half of its 20 percent stake.

Inbursa dropped 7 percent to 27.31 pesos at the close in Mexico City, the biggest one-day decline since August 2011. The shares have slumped 30 percent this year, compared with a 7.3 percent decline for the benchmark IPC index.

The sale by CaixaBank, Spain’s third-biggest bank, would unlock 10 percent of Inbursa’s shares for public trading, reducing their scarcity. CaixaBank is studying a public offering for the stake in Mexico and overseas, Inbursa Chairman Marco Antonio Slim Domit -- Slim’s son -- said in an e-mail.

Selling Inbursa shares wouldn’t affect CaixaBank’s commitments to the lender or its main shareholders, according to a regulatory filing from the Barcelona-based company today. A 10 percent stake had a value of almost $1.6 billion based on Inbursa’s market capitalization at yesterday’s close.

CaixaBank would join Spanish lenders including Banco Santander SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA that sold assets in Latin America to replenish capital depleted by losses suffered during the country’s property crash. CaixaBank has said it will bolster its financial strength by aiming for a core capital ratio of more than 8 percent by year-end, taking into account all the adjustments required under Basel III rules.

“Inbursa is one of the few of their investments where they can realize clear gains, so from that point of view it was an obvious candidate for CaixaBank when it came to selling assets,” said Antonio Ramirez, a London-based analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Ltd., who rates the lender “market perform.” “Mexican bank valuations have done very well in recent years.”

Spanish Sales

La Caixa banking group agreed to buy 20 percent of Inbursa for 1.5 billion euros ($1.93 billion) in 2008 as a vehicle to expand in the Americas. Inbursa shares have climbed 66 percent in the past five years through yesterday.

The two companies remain “good partners,” Slim Domit said today.

Shares in CaixaBank climbed 0.8 percent to 2.75 euros at the close in Madrid, valuing the bank at 12.78 billion euros.

Santander sold a stake last year in Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico, adding to disposals of other Latin American assets including its Colombian bank. BBVA agreed in November to sell its Mexican pension fund business for $1.6 billion.

The sale by Spanish lenders of valuable assets in countries such as Mexico has led to criticism that they are relinquishing future earnings growth. Daragh Quinn and Jaime Hernandez, analysts at Nomura Holdings Inc., wrote in an April 4 report that they expect loan growth of as much as 17 percent a year in Mexico can be sustained through 2020.

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