Spanish rival launches 2nd takeover bid for Portuguese bank

LISBON, Portugal – Spain’s Caixabank is making its second attempt in just over a year to take control of Banco Portugues do Investimento, launching a crossborder takeover bid Monday that valued the Portuguese bank at 1.62 billion euros ($1.83 billion).

Caixabank, S.A., which is the Portuguese bank’s largest shareholder with 44 per cent of its stock, is offering 1.113 euros a share — lower than its February 2015 offer of 1.329 euros. It says the offer represents the average share price over the past six months, an offer analysts say investors were disappointed with.

The Spanish bank said in a statement Monday its bid has three conditions: scrapping current limits on shareholders’ voting rights, obtaining more than 50 per cent of Banco BPI S.A.’s stock, and securing regulatory authorization.

The bid came after Caixabank’s negotiations to buy a rival Angolan shareholder’s 18.6 per cent stake collapsed despite the announcement of a preliminary agreement in early April after a months-long standoff between the two.

The battle for control of BPI, one of Portugal’s largest banks, is being played out against a broader backdrop of international political and financial interests.

European supervisors keen to strengthen the continent’s financial industry are encouraging consolidation in the Iberian banking sector, where Portuguese banks are seen as weak. The International Monetary Fund said this month the Portuguese banking sector is “hobbled by low profitability and poor asset quality.”

But some politicians in Portugal have spoken out against a possible Spanish takeover of local banks, saying national sovereignty is at stake.

Portuguese officials are also reluctant to be seen as taking sides against Angola, which has invested heavily in Portugal in recent times. BPI’s Angolan interests represented more than half of its 236.4 million euro profit last year.

The 18.6 per cent stake in BPI is owned by Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, a daughter of longtime Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and one of Africa’s most prominent businesswomen. Angola is a former Portuguese colony.

European banking supervisors, however, have demanded that BPI lessen its exposure to Angola, whose debt risks are regarded as too high.