Banco Santander SA (SAN), Spain's biggest bank, has spent 1.2 billion euros ($1.9 billion) buying up real estate, as Spanish lenders acquire assets from developers to preempt defaults as the country's housing market slumps.
The Santander, Spain-based bank's acquisitions add to the purchases of real estate by Banco Espanol de Credito SA, a Santander-owned Spanish retail bank, Alfredo Saenz, Santander's chief executive officer, said today on a Webcast.
Spanish developers are facing a crash in demand as the country's 10-year housing boom ends. Banesto said in a regulatory filing last night it had paid 381 million euros to buy unfinished real estate developments from Reyal Urbis SA (REY), a developer.
``We are buying real estate under very strict criteria as long as it carries the logic of reducing risk,'' Saenz said at a news conference in Madrid. ``It's being done to mutually benefit both the creditors and the bank itself.''
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