Banco Santander Sets Strict Guardrails For Potential Mexico Deal

Ana Botin, the chair of Banco Santander SA, called Mexico a “growth engine” for the bank but cautioned that the lender would only seek to buy Citigroup Inc.’s retail business in the country if certain requirements are met.

“I want to be very clear, we will only buy Banamex if we can pay cash,” Botin said Monday in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power With David Westin.”

Citigroup’s Mexican consumer banking arm Citibanamex has started to share information with banks and other parties interested in bidding for the country’s No. 3 consumer lender, Citi executives said last month.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has pledged to “Mexicanize” the unit, floating names of Mexican billionaires and bank owners, but he has no direct control over the process. Citigroup has said nationality will not be the deciding factor in the transaction.

Manuel Romo, Chief Executive Officer of Citibanamex, declined to reveal the names of the parties that already approached the bank during a call with analysts on Friday, but many institutions have expressed their interest publicly.

Analysts have estimated that the bank’s price tag, which Citi bought for $12.5 billion in 2001, could stand between $4 billion and $8 billion.

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.