Will South Florida branches help or hurt Spanish banks?
Spain's economy is laboring under crippling deficits and a 20 percent unemployment rate, a crush of bad real estate loans and a central bank-ordered consolidation of the country's savings banks, or "cajas," that it insists is a preemptive restructuring rather than a rescue. All of this has observers closely watching for any effects on Spanish banks' operations in South Florida and their much-touted expansion plans.
The caja with the most visible presence in the South Florida market is Caja Madrid, which owns Miami-based City National Bank of Florida. In June, the caja confirmed that it has begun merging its operations with fellow savings bank Bancaja to form what would be Spain's largest caja. Miami operations are very minor players within the enormity of Spanish banks, but effects are sure to be felt nonetheless. "Once the mergers are finalized, the cajas are going to have to decide what to do with their Miami operations," said Mr. Sirven. "They're going to have to figure out how to combine those operations."