MADRID, April 20 (Reuters) - Spain's Banco Popular CEO Ignacio Sanchez-Asiain said on Thursday the lender's current priority is the sell off of non-performing real estate assets as it fights to return to profits and improve its capital.
"The priority is divestment of the real estate business. We're hoping the rate of divestment increases and that we do it in the shortest time possible," Sanchez-Asiain said during a conference in Madrid.
The bank is considered Spain's weakest due to its exposure to about 36 billion euros of non-performing real estate assets, and reported a record 3.5 billion euro ($3.70 billion) loss last year.
Merger or acquisition deals also remain a possibility for the bank, he said. (Reporting by Jesus Aguado; Writing by Paul Day)