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MADRID, May 16 (Reuters) - Spain's Banco Popular said on Tuesday several groups had shown interest in a potential merger with the bank and that it is exploring several options as it struggles to clean up its toxic balance sheet.
The groups had to declare preliminary interest on Tuesday, but any declarations were not binding and were needed for it to analyse its options, Popular said in a statement to the market regulator.
The lender said it had not made any final decision on which measure it plans to adopt.
A Popular spokesman said earlier on Tuesday the bank had hired JPMorgan and Lazard to advise it on its strategic options, which include either a merger or a capital raise. (Reporting by Sarah White and Sonya Dowsett; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Paul Day)