Santander to buy SEB’s German retail banking unit

Spain's largest bank Santander moved one step closer to its goal to be a full service bank in Germany with the acquisition of Sweden's SEB retail banking division, the bank has announced.

The Ä555m ($699.1m) deal comes as Santander attempts to increase its footprint in both Europe, particularly Germany and Britain, as well as in higher growth markets like Latin America, where it is reported to be planning acquisitions in Columbia and Peru.

“Germany is a core market for Santander. This acquisition is a significant step toward achieving our goal of being a full service retail bank in Europe,” Chairman Emilio Botin said in the bank's press release.

The purchase price is close to the Ä500m sources familiar with the matter told reporters Santander would pay for the division, which made an operating loss of Ä117m in 2009. Santander said its core capital ratio could fall by ten basis points from the acquisition.

Earlier the Financial Times cited Francisco Luzon, head of Santander's Latin American operations, as saying that the bank was looking to increase its presence in Colombia and Peru, where it has market shares of between 10 and 20 percent.

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