Caixabank shareholders pave way to create Spain’s biggest bank with Bankia

FILE PHOTO: CaixaBank's logo is seen on top of the company's headquarters in Barcelona

MADRID (Reuters) – Caixabank’s shareholders on Thursday lifted one of the last hurdles to the merger with state-owned lender Bankia that will create Spain’s biggest domestic lender two days after Bankia shareholders had also cleared the path, Caixabank’s Chairman Jordi Gual said.

The approval from Caixabank’s shareholders to create a bank with more than 650 billion euros in total assets will bring the total number of banks in Spain down to 11 from the current 12, on par with countries like in Italy and France, Caixabank’s Chief Executive Officer Gonzalo Gortazar said.

The deal still needs to the approval of the Spain’s watchdog competition CNMC, which could force divestitures in some businesses or try to limit the impact of the transaction in some regions where the banks have a dominant market share, such as Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and Madrid.

The economy ministry also has to approve the 4.3 billion euros ($5.21 billion) acquisition of Bankia by Caixabank.

($1 = 0.8257 euros)

(Reporting by Jesús Aguado; additional reporting by Emma Pinedo; editing by Inti Landauro)