La Caixa to buy Morgan Stanley Spanish business

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Deal to make savings bank leading private banking player

29 January 2008

MADRID - La Caixa, Spain's largest savings bank, said Monday it had agreed to acquire Morgan Stanley's private banking business in Spain, including its fund and pension management activities.

LaCaixa did not reveal the financial terms of the agreement. It said the purchase would proceed once it has received regulatory authorisation to do so, which it expects to be the case by the second quarter of this year.

In a statement, the bank, which is chaired by Isidre Fainé, said the acquisition would reinforce its private banking business and help it achieve the target it set itself in its 2007-2010 business plan of becoming a leading player in this market segment in Spain.

"This is an opportunity that fits in with the strategic lines of the [bank] for the next few years, which is looking to place the private banking division in a leading position in Spain," Fainé said.

La Caixa's general manager, Juan María Nin, said the acquisition of Morgan Stanley's business would also bring with it management systems and a highly trained staff of professionals.

The operation will also provide a boost to the bank's investment fund management division Invercaixa, whose market share in Spain will increase to 7.5 percent from the 5.5 percent it is at currently.

La Caixa's private banking division has 8,000 clients with business volumes of over EUR 16.6 billion.

Morgan Stanley has a workforce of 430 in Spain with assets under management worth about EUR 9 billion. The US investment bank is ranked sixth by volume of business in the private banking sector in Spain.

After the purchase of the US bank's business, La Caixa will become the third-biggest private banking operator in Spain.

Morgan Stanley said the sale of its Spanish business was in line with its strategy of concentrating its efforts on international private banking in the very high wealth segments of the market.

[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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