(Recasts with names of bidders from sources)
By Sergio Goncalves
LISBON, June 30 (Reuters) - Two Chinese bidders and U.S. fund Apollo Global Management LLC have submitted binding offers for Portugal's Novo Banco, the successor to Banco Espirito Santo after a state rescue last year, sources familiar with the bidding process said on Tuesday.
Spain's Banco Santander dropped out of the race for Novo Banco, one of the sources said.
The Bank of Portugal said the country's so-called Bank Resolution Fund received three bids for Novo Banco by Tuesday's deadline, which reduced the list of contenders from five that the central bank picked in April. It did not name the institutions.
Portuguese authorities hope to sell Novo Banco to recover funds injected last August in a 4.9 billion euro rescue operation, when BES, the country's second-largest lender, crumbled under the debts of its founding Espirito Santo family.
The central bank said it will evaluate the offers in the coming weeks.
Sources told Reuters earlier this month that China's Fosun International Ltd and privately owned Chinese insurer Anbang each offered just over 4 billion euros for Novo Banco in April and were likely to face off in the final phase of the sale process as other contenders offered much less.
After evaluating the new bids, the regulator can pick the winner or proceed to negotiate with the bidders to achieve better terms.
Sources and local media have named New York-based investment firm Cerberus Capital Management among the bidders in the previous phase.
Novo Banco is Portugal's third-largest bank in terms of assets, totalling around 65 billion euros. The toxic exposure to the Espirito Santos' debt was left with the "bad bank" BES .
Fosun has already entered the Portuguese market with the purchase last year of the country's leading insurer, Fidelidade, and the healthcare unit of the bankrupt Espirito Santo business empire. Apollo last year bought insurer Tranquilidade, another part of the Espirito Santo web of businesses.
Although most of the BES rescue package came from public funds, the capital came via the Bank Resolution Fund, the joint responsibility of Portugal's banks, meaning any losses on the sale would be incurred by banks. (Additional reporting and writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)