SOURCES: Spain’s Embattled Bankia To Sell City National Bank Of Florida To Chile’s BCI

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Rebeca C. Trujillo | Editor

Breaking news reports indicated that the bidding war for Miami-based City National Bank of Florida may be over this afternoon, with Chile’s Banco de Crédito e Inversiones, S.A. (BCI) emerging as the winner. Sources say that BCI out-bid Banco do Brazil with an offer just short of  $900 million. The acquisition of CNBF provides BCI with a ready-made springboard into the very attractive South Florida market. City National has 20 branches throughout South Florida, in Orlando and Winter Park, and approximately 400 employees.

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On the other hand, funds from this sale, which must still be approved by Bankia’s board, will allow the embattled Spanish bank, formerly known as Caja Madrid, to re-energize its domestic operations, heavily impaired by that nation’s dramatic economic downturn. Bankia is currently embroiled in a legal and public relations war at home: It is facing charges of fraud through which over 350,000 large and small shareholders saw their investments completely wiped out late last year. The bank and its Bankia Habitat division are also the focus of the ire of homeowners and account holders for the institution’s myriad foreclosure actions and re-sale of those repossessed properties. Bankia initially purchased an 83-percent stake in City National Bank in 2008 for $927 million and gained control of the remaining 17 percent for an undisclosed amount. This deal was meant to shore-up the bank’s financial status by expanding its operations into a lucrative financial market.

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