Bargain hunting British travellers widen horizons in search of deals

Spain is still the UK’s most popular overseas tourist destination, but with bargain hunting Brits keen to find the best deals, UK travellers are widening their palette of options, according to data provided by Asda Money.

The UK government recently increased Air Passenger Duty adding more to the cost of foreign holidays, which could deter some from heading overseas or look to seek cheaper alternatives. The cost of going overseas is increasing and so a number of people might look for cheaper holiday destinations.

Whilst Spain has always been one of the most popular places for British tourists to visit, this could change as bargain hunting Brits search for cheaper holiday destinations such as Hungary and Latvia.

In a poll of 2018 adults, commissioned by ABTA, 12% of customers said they would be going overseas between July 27 and August 12 to get away from the London 2012 Games.

Asda Money offers affordable travel money to destinations across the world. Asda Money is a trading name of Asda Financial Services Ltd.

Troubled Spanish lender Bankia sells Mexican car financing arm

Spanish lender Bankia SA said on Thursday it had entered into a EUR9.7m (USD12.1m) deal to sell its car financing unit Finanmadrid Mexico to Mexican bank CI Banco.

Bankia is disposing of the Mexican business created in February 2005 as part of a strategy to get rid of non-core operations, it said.

The transaction needs to win the relevant regulatory approval before it can close, the vendor said, adding it expected to receive the nod in the next few weeks.

Finanmadrid Mexico, focused on loans for car purchases provided through concessionaire agencies, generated revenues of EUR7.3m last year, the highest result since it started operations driven by the strong car sector in the country.

CI Banco runs 137 branches across Mexico’s most important cities and tourism centres. The lender, established in 1984 and headed by Jorge Rangel de Alba Brunel, has assets of over EUR1bn.

Bankia, which asked for state help in May, has been granted a temporary clearance by the European Commission (EC) on Wednesday for its state bailout.

According to the EC, the aid would consist of a conversion of state-owned preference shares worth EUR4.465bn into equity and a liquidity guarantee of EUR19bn to the BFA group which comprises Bankia.

In a statement, EC competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that the Spanish bank’s parent BFA will become fully state owned, a move that would simplify decision making regarding its restructuring.

Spanish Banco Santander completes disposal of Columbian unit

Spain’s Banco Santander SA (MCE:SAN) said on Monday it had concluded the second and final phase of the sale of its Colombian business to Chilean lender CorpBanca (SCL:CORPBANCA).

In early December 2011, Santander said it had entered into an agreement to divest all of its Colombian units to CorpBanca. At the end of May 2012, the Spanish bank announced it had finalised the first phase of the transaction after selling 51% stakes in Banco Santander Colombia SA (CLB:SANTANDER) and in Santander Investment Trust Colombia SA for a total price of USD624m (EUR499.2m).

Today, Santander unveiled it had completed the disposal of the remaining shares in the two entities and of its other Colombian units in exchange for USD605m, thus bringing the total price for the entire business to USD1.23bn.

The Spanish lender has gained some EUR620m from the sale that will help it partially satisfy its additional provisioning of real estate assets which need to be covered by the end of the year.

Established in 1857, Banco Santander operates as a Spanish retail bank with presence in ten major markets. It manages EUR1.38trn in funds for over 102m customers across its network of about 15,000 sites. The group has a headcount of some 193,000.

EC refers Shell’s sale of Shell Aviation Espana to Disa to local competition regulator

The European Commission (EC) said on Friday it had sent to the Spanish competition regulator for review the planned deal by Royal Dutch Shell plc (LON:RDSA) to sell a stake in its Spanish aviation fuels unit Shell Aviation Espana SL (SAE) to domestic Disa Corporacion Petrolífera SA.

Spain’s Comision Nacional de la Competencia (CNC) requested on 22 May 2012 that the EC allowed it to assess the deal which it sees to create competition problems in the country.

Following a preliminary review by the EC, the European Union regulator said that CNC is best placed to investigate the transaction as it would only affect sectors of the Spanish market.

The CNC expressed concerns that a combination of Disa and SAE could impact sectors connected to into-plane services provision, including logistic services and petroleum products storage, in the Canary Islands.

The proposed deal could result in existing and future competitors losing access to Disa’s storage facilities and logistic services and could also lead to coordinated effects in the fuel sectors in the Canary Islands, the CNC said.

Under the planned transaction, Shell is selling a controlling stake in its Spanish aviation fuel subsidiary SAE to Disa.

Currently Shell owns 100% of SAE, which offers into-plane services at Spanish airports Las Palmas, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife North and Tenerife South.

Disa is an oil company with operations including sale, storage and transport logistic services of petroleum products in the Canary Islands.

Bailout for Spain’s banks lifts Asian shares

Spain’s EUR100bn bailout package has lifted shares in Asia and resulted in a 1% gain for the euro against the US dollar and the Japanese yen.

Stock markets in Japan and Hong Kong were up by about 2% on Monday, with traders contributing the rise to the EUR100bn bailout for Spain’s banks, which was agreed on Saturday.

The bailout for Spain, which is targeted at its ailing banking sector suffering from bad loans to the country’s troubled property industry, carries fewer demands for austerity measures like those attached to the bailout of Greece.

Greece will hold a second elections on June 17, but last month the winners of the previous elections failed to form a government. Analysts agreed that the bailout for Spain will buy some time, but added that the crisis is far from over and the focus will shift again to Greece, which is expected to vote anti-austerity parties to power.

“All eyes are still on Greece’s upcoming elections but investors’ worries over the eurozone have eased in the short term,” Andy Du of Orient Futures Derivatives told the BBC.

International credit agencies have signaled the need to shore up Spain’s banks in the recent weeks and months, with Moody’s downgrading the ratings of 16 banks in May. The Spanish government also took control of banking major Bankia last month.

Depositors in Spain, like in Greece,have been pulling their funds from their bank accounts, but this weekend’s bailout is believed to have a calming affect and restore confidence.