EU Banks Selling ‘Crown Jewels’

Push to boost capital risks undermining growth.

European banks, under pressure from regulators to bolster capital, are selling some of their fastest-growing businesses to competitors from outside the region -- at the expense of future profit and economic growth.

Spain’s Banco Santander SA, Belgium’s KBC Groep NV and Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG are accelerating plans to exit profitable operations outside their home markets. Santander, which said in October it needs to plug a 5.2 billion-euro ($6.9 billion) capital gap, sold its Colombian unit last week to Chile’s Corpbanca for $1.16 billion. Deutsche Bank is weighing options including a sale of most of its asset-management unit, while KBC may dispose of businesses in Poland.

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