Unicaja and Liberbank approve their merger and create the fifth largest bank in Spain: “It will be necessary to adopt labor measures”

The fifth bank of Spain takes shape. The boards of directors of Unicaja Banco and Liberbank gave the green light to the merger of these entities, which will form a single bank with a volume of assets of around 110,000 million euros.

During the afternoon, the negotiations of the last few weeks were finally on track, through approvals in the highest bodies of the two banks, which sent the approval to the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) at 7:00 pm.

Unicaja Banco, with around 63,000 million euros in assets, will have 59.5% of the resulting group, for 40.5% of Liberbank, with slightly more than 45,800 million euros in assets for its part. This new bank will have a staff of 9,900 professionals and a network of 1,600 branchess, waiting for eventual adjustments once the operation is completed.  «After the execution of the merger, the combined entity will complete the analysis of overlaps, duplications and economies of scale derived from the process, without any decision having been taken in relation to the labor-related measures that will be necessary to adopt », explained the merged companies to the CNMV.

Unicaja, the absorbing company, comprises 6,200 employees and 1,000 offices, while Liberbank, the absorbed entity, has 3,700 workers and around 580 branches. The headquarters of the new bank will be in Málaga, thus imposing the domicile of Unicaja, which, in addition to Andalusia, has a relevant footprint in Castilla y León. Apart from in that Andalusian city, there will be operating centers in Madrid and Oviedo, fundamental for the Liberbank business (originated by the confluence of Cajastur-Banco CCM and the Caja Cántabra and Extremadura). The group’s brand will initially be Unicaja Banco, although Liberbank’s commercial name will be preserved in its traditional territories.

The president of Unicaja Banco, Manuel Azuaga, will remain in that position in the resulting entity. The CEO of Liberbank, Manuel Menà © ndez, will continue in that position, but of the merged entity and at least until 2023. This last point has been one of the last shocks of the negotiations, finally concluded.  «Within a maximum period of two years from the full effectiveness of the merger with its registration, the Board of Directors will modify the governance model of Unicaja Banco, so that the Presidency of the Council becomes non-executive and the functions of the CEO are adapted, “the entities explained to the CNMV.

With the approval, a month is opened for an expert to assess the transaction and establish the exchange of shares, and then proceed to call the respective meetings, which must give the final approval to the transaction justified before the CNMV: Â «The market has undergone a process of restructuring and progressive concentration of the banking sector, derived from the need for banking entities to improve their efficiency and reduce their operating costs in an environment of prolonged reduction in net interest incomeas a consequence, among other factors, of low interest rates. This trend is now reinforced as a consequence of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19.