Spanish banks ponder merger

City A.M. Reporter
BANCO Popular and smaller savings bank Banco Mare Nostrum said yesterday that they could merge to form Spain’s fifth-biggest financial institution, in what could be the first of an expected wave of mergers.

Spain’s economic woes, linked to its banking and housing crises, reflects growing unemployment, with figures yesterday showing a five per cent rise in benefit payment from January to July.

Meanwhile Italian PM Mario Monti said yesterday that Brussels must actively hold down Spanish and Italian bond yields.