EU approves Santander's purchase of B&B assets

jueves 18 de diciembre de 2008 10:00 CET

BRUSSELS Dec 18 (Reuters) - Spanish banking group Santander (SAN.MC: Cotización) won permission from EU competition authorities on Thursday to acquire assets including deposits and branches of British mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley BB_p.L.

British authorities had bought the buy-to-let mortgage lender's portfolio, which had a heavy exposure to wholesale credit markets, for 50 billion pounds ($77.1 billion) and sold its deposits and branches to Santander.

Santander will combine B&B's deposit and branch network with Abbey National, the UK lender it bought in 2004.

"Since Bradford & Bingley did not provide a full range of retail banking services prior to the merger, the acquisition is unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall position of Abbey in retail banking," the Commission said in a statement.

However, since Bradford & Bingley was active in mortgage lending, the Commission particularly considered the mortgage market more specifically, it said.

The Commission, which regulates EU antitrust policy, said "the transaction would not raise competition concerns" and that the acquisition was unlikely to have a significant impact on Abbey's overall position in retail banking. (Writing by Jeremy Smith, editing by Dale Hudson)