EFEMexico City

The leading shareholder in Spanish bank Abanca said here it was interested in acquiring Madrid-based Bankia's stake in Cuban lender Corporacion Financiera Habana.

"We're considering investing in Cuba through Abanca," Juan Carlos Escotet, chairman of Banesco, Venezuela's leading private bank, told journalists Thursday in Mexico during an event to present Betanzos, Spain-based Abanca's new brand identity in that country.

Abanca will participate in "a competitive auction process" launched by Bankia, which is obligated to divest its holdings in CFH, the Venezuelan banker, who is also Abanca's vice president, said.

Corporacion Financiera Habana is a joint venture in which Bankia has 60 percent and Cuban state-owned Banco Popular de Ahorro has 40 percent.

Bankia is exiting CFH not "because the results of the operation haven't been good," Escotet said "On the contrary, it's a profitable, efficient, money-making operation."

But its restructuring plan, which it had to carry out in exchange for a capital injection from the European Union's rescue fund, requires it to carry out this divestment, he added.

More than 30 potential bidders are interested in the auction, which will close at the end of October, Escotet said.