Jun 20, 2011, 08.54 AM | Source: Reuters
Spanish bank Santander said on Sunday it is not currently in talks with Qatar after a report that the Gulf state was in conversations about buying a stake in the British arm of the bank.
The report in the Sunday Times said the bank was in talks with Qatar Holdings, part of the state's sovereign wealth fund, and with other such funds, about acquiring a stake prior to, or at the time of, a planned flotation of the unit.
"There are currently no conversations under way with Qatar about this matter," a Santander official in Madrid said in response to the report.
Qatar Holdings and Santander UK were unavailable for comment.
The Spanish lender said last year it planned to list its UK unit, which according to the report is the fifth-largest bank in Britain.
Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, who is also head of the sovereign wealth fund, said in February that Qatar was open to buying stakes in UK lenders, having reaped a significant profit from investing in Barclays.
In 2010, Qatar bought a 5% stake in Santander's Brazilian arm, Banco Santander Brasil, in a deal worth USD 2.7 billion.