Spain’s CaixaBank to axe 8,300 staff and close a quarter of branches

Spain's CaixaBank to axe 8,300 staff and close a quarter of branches
Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP
Spain's CaixaBank is to lay off nearly 8,300 staff and close one in four branches following its mega-merger with smaller rival Bankia to form the country's largest domestic lender, a union said Tuesday.

“They are proposing cutting 8,291 staff members,” the Workers’ Commission (CCOO) wrote on Twitter following talks with the management, in a figure which amounts to some 16 percent of its staff.

The bank also intends to shut down 1,534 branches or around a quarter of the total, the CCOO said.

Completed at the end of March, the merger has transformed the landscape of Spanish banking with the new entity retaining the Caixabank name and holding 25 percent of the domestic market.

The new bank had a total of 51,000 employees, figures showed at the turn of the year.

The deal has created Spain’s largest bank with combined assets of around €664 billion ($787 billion) and 20 million customers in the domestic market, putting it ahead of Santander and BBVA, both of which have a more international presence.

The Spanish state was the largest shareholder in Bankia, but following the deal, its 62-percent stake dropped to 16-percent in the new group.

The huge merger comes in a very difficult context for Spain which saw its economy contract by a sharp 10.8 percent in 2020, one of the worst performers in the eurozone, with its key tourism sector battered by the pandemic travel restrictions.

In the 11 years following the financial crisis of 2008, Spain’s banks shed nearly 100,000 staff, the CCOO said.

Late last year, Spanish banking giant Santander said it would slash nearly 3,600 jobs while Banco Sabadell plans to cut 1,800 as part of a major restructuring.

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