December 5, 2018 / 4:27 PM / 10 days ago

Spanish online bank WiZink looks to float in 2019 -sources

FRANKFURT/LONDON/MADRID, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Investment firm Varde Partners is planning to float its Spanish online bank WiZink next year, with investment banks UBS and Goldman Sachs likely to be selected as IPO coordinators, people close to the matter said.

WiZink is expected to have a market capitalisation of around 2.5-3 billion euros ($2.8-$3.4 billion) and the initial public offering (IPO) would come in the third quarter of 2019, one of the sources added.

Goldman Sachs and WiZink declined to comment, while UBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported in July that Varde Partners was studying options for WiZink, including an IPO in 2019.

The listing is expected after a difficult few months for the IPO market in Europe, with a series of underperforming or failed transactions. In October Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala pulled the flotation of Spanish energy company Cepsa blaming market conditions.

Varde, a $14 billion global alternative investment firm, bought a remaining 49 percent in WiZink from Banco Santander earlier this year, becoming its only shareholder.

WiZink, in which Varde took a 51 percent stake in 2014, has sought to take advantage of Spain’s consumer credit growth. It has no branches and specializes in customer focused credit cards and savings products, designed to complement its customers’ existing banking services with other providers.

Spanish consumer lending has grown by 47 percent to 85 billion euros over three-and-a-half years to June 2018 as banks ramp up lending to households in the search for higher returns.

Varde’s other financial services investments include Citi’s Canadian business, which it bought with JC Flowers in 2017, and credit card issuer CreditShop, which includes a MasterCard credit card portfolio that used to belong to Barclaycard.

In 2017, WiZink reported a net profit of 110 million euros, according to the annual report of Santander and Banco Popular. Banco Santander bought Banco Popular in June 2017.

It manages more than 3.4 billion euros in credit card balances in Spain and Portugal, as well as more than 3.2 billion euros in deposits and savings accounts. ($1 = 0.8807 euros) (Reporting by Arno Schuetze, Dasha Afanasieva, Jesus Gonzalez Aguado; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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