Spain's Abanca pays about $150 mln to buy Basque lender Bankoa

MADRID, April 26 (Reuters) - Spain’s Abanca said on Monday it had paid 122.4 million euros ($147.9 million) for Credit Agricole’s 99.81% stake in Basque bank Bankoa.

Abanca’s board, which formally approved the acquisition on Monday, said it intended to buy out the remaining 0.19% held by minority Bankoa shareholders.

The Spanish banking sector is consolidating as banks try to improve their battered profitability. Banks across Europe are under growing pressure from rising bad debts and record-low interest rates as they cope with the impact of the pandemic.

Abanca has been very active recently in acquiring smaller lenders or business units. In April, it agreed to buy the Spanish retail network of Portugal’s Novo Banco.

With this deal, Abanca is acquiring 30 Bankoa branches and taking on a 1.8 billion euro loan portfolio and 1.6 billion euros in deposits, making it Spain’s seventh biggest lender with around 72 billion euros in assets.

$1 = 0.8280 euros Reporting by Jesús Aguado. Editing by Mark Potter