Bank cutting Spanish stake

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria sells Sogecable shares

MADRID — Bowing before antitrust dictates of Jose Maria Aznar’s newly formed Spanish government, Spain’s second largest bank, the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), has begun reducing its stake in conglom Sogecable, initially from 10.3% to 6%.

BBVA will receive Pta40.9 billion ($240 million) for its share sale. Antitrust authorities at Spain’s Ministry of the Economy ruled last December that no company could hold more than 3% in competing communications firms. BBVA is the lead shareholder in Telefonica with a 9% stake.

BBVA’s Sogecable share has been picked up largely by its lead shareholders, France’s Canal Plus and Spain’s Prisa, which will up their stakes in Sogecable by 1.53% to 21.26%.

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