SHARES in troubled Italian bank Monte dei Paschi soared yesterday after Spanish giant Santander asked investors for €7.5bn (£5.9bn) in a share sale, prompting takeover speculation.
Executive chairman Ana Botin took the reins in the autumn after her father and predecessor Emilio Botin died. “We are confident in the bank’s potential to grow organically,” she said.
But the sheer scale of the fundraising round, combined with the bank’s stated intent to expand in many of its markets across the globe prompted speculation it could seek acquisition targets.
Santander comfortably passed regulatory requirements in the European stress tests last year.
Its capital position was found to be more robust than of German rival Deutsche Bank, under a fictional recession scenario.
But Spanish bank BBVA came in above Santander, indicating there was room for improvement in its capital buffers.
The bank said yesterday that it wanted to use some of the funds raised to meet incoming tougher targets this year, rather in 2019 as regulators demand.
Monte dei Paschi’s shares jumped 12.39 per cent on the speculation.
Santander’s shares were suspended on the issuance.
Ana Botin ran Santander UK until she took over at boss of the global group.
The UK arm is expected to be floated off as a separate entity in the coming two years, boosting the group’s capital position further.