By Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro and David French
LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Mexico’s Banca Mifel has lined up investors including Apollo Global Management and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) to fund a bid for Citigroup Inc’s Mexican retail bank, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The debt financing could attract more investors to join in Mifel’s bid to buy Citibanamex, although there is enough funding already in place to fully support Mifel’s proposal, one of the sources said.
The competition to buy one of Mexico’s biggest banks has narrowed to two bidders, with smaller rival Mifel, led by Daniel Becker, battling billionaire German Larrea’s conglomerate Grupo Mexico. Another contender, billionaire Carlos Slim’s Grupo Financiero Inbursa, withdrew from the race on Wednesday.
The two remaining bidders are now conducting further due diligence on the business, also known as Banamex, the sources said. The U.S. banking giant is offloading the unit as part of Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser’s efforts to sell some international operations and simplify the firm.
The potential acquisition would transform Mifel. Banamex is Mexico’s fourth largest bank by assets with a 11.9% market share, whereas Mifel holds less than 1% of the market, according to the latest data from the country’s National Banking and Securities Commission.
Before the news of the backers emerged, some analysts had questioned whether Mifel, despite having private equity fund Advent International as a minority shareholder, could compete for Banamex, given the deep pockets of other suitors. Larrea’s personal net worth is estimated at $23 billion, according to Forbes.
Citigroup, Apollo, ADIA and Advent declined to comment. Representatives from Mifel and Grupo Mexico did not immediately respond to emails and phone calls requesting comment.
(Reporting by Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro in London and David French in New York, additional reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh in Dubai, Saeed Azhar in New York and Valentine Hilaire in Mexico City; editing by Lananh Nguyen and David Gregorio)