A pedestrian walks past a branch of a Santander bank in London, January 11, 2010. (Photo : REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett)
Banco Santander is looking to list its Mexican unit in Mexico and New York on September 25, a source close to the deal told Reuters late on Thursday.
The move is part of Santander's bid to shake off its association with only its struggling home market, allowing it to remind investors of its international reach and paving the way for a listing of its British subsidiary next year.
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The euro zone's biggest bank, which has suffered less than domestic rivals from the economic crisis in Spain because of its extensive overseas interests, is looking to raise between $3 billion and $4 billion in the offering, Thomson Reuters IFR reported last week.
Santander plans to list about 25 percent of its Mexican unit, which is Mexico's third-largest bank by assets, with just over 6 percent being sold in Mexico and 18.7 percent abroad.
Spain accepted a 100 billion euro ($125.83 billion) European Union rescue to prop up its banks, although Santander is not expected to need any aid. The bank boasts a higher credit rating than the Spanish state, which is now inching towards a full sovereign bailout.
Santander press officers in Madrid were not immediately available for comment on the listing.
The bank upset investors this week when it said it would buy back some of its subordinated and hybrid debt, just one day after pricing a senior unsecured issue, ending a six-month debt freeze in the Spanish banking sector.
Santander, which saw first-half profits more than halve after writing down the value of Spanish real estate assets, said it wanted to improve the management of liabilities and strengthen its balance sheet.
Santander said in a preliminary prospectus that it saw Mexico as a good growth prospect due to its sound economic fundamentals, young population, growing middle class and low penetration of banking services.
The bank had 841 billion Mexican pesos ($64.10 billion) in assets and a loan portfolio of 338.9 billion pesos at the end of June.
Although Santander's geographic reach, particularly in Latin America, has shielded it from the worst of the Spanish crisis, revenues have fallen in the region.
Earnings tumbled at Santander Brazil, which accounts for over a quarter of group profit. Slowing economic growth there has resulted in higher credit losses for the bank.
Santander's listing will be the third this year on Mexico's stock exchange, which has in recent years sharply lagged its larger neighbor Brazil in attracting companies looking for capital.
Global IPO proceeds plummeted 46 percent in the first half of this year, as Europe's debt crisis and worries over economic growth from China to the US have left stock markets choppy and unpredictable
While some high profile IPOs such as London luxury jeweler Graff Diamonds' planned Hong Kong float have been canned, others which went ahead, such as Facebook, have left a bad taste in investors mouths.
Bankers say only those companies with strong balance sheets, significant growth prospects and stories that are easy for investors to understand are being advised to risk testing the waters. ($1=13.12 Mexican pesos) ($1 = 0.7947 euros)