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Indian to decide fate of Spanish banking giant

Indian to decide fate of Spanish banking giant
PTI
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First Published: Wed, Mar 28 2007. 12 05 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Mar 28 2007. 12 05 PM IST
New Delhi: What began as small investments in stocks about 10 years ago, has pushed once small-time investor Ramchand Bhavnani to an enviable position today where he can decide fate of Spain’s fifth largest bank Bankinter.
Continuing with purchase of shares in Bankinter over the years, India born Bhavnani -- an unknown name till a few years ago -- has raised his holding to over 14%.
His rise, which also earned him a director seat on Bankinter board in 2005, holds even more significance as Spain is a country where large businesses are mostly owned by powerful families and an intricate network of cross-holdings.
The Spanish lending giant said in a regulatory filing that Bhavnani, the second-largest shareholder, now owns 14.08% stake company, worth about $900 million.
The 63-year old Sindhi businessman, who had moved to Hong Kong from Mumbai long back before moving to Spanish territory of Canary Islands, has been consistently raising his stake in Bankinter -- from about 6% in 2003 to 12% in October 2006 and to 13.6% till last week.
His growing stake has stirred speculations that Spanish bank could soon become an acquisition target and Bhavnani could reap huge gains from sale of his stake in Bankinter, currently controlled by the Boltin banking dynasty.
However, Bhavnani is unlikely to favour a potential sale to some Indian entity. The India born investor had said in an interview last month that he would prefer a possible sale to a Spanish firm and not a foreign bank.
Bhavnani’s growth to the driving seat at Bankinter bears resemblance to many super hit film plots and has been even featured by publications like Wall Street Journal. After graduating from Mumbai, he worked for a Sindhi expatriate in Hong Kong and later married his daughter.
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First Published: Wed, Mar 28 2007. 12 05 PM IST
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