Spain's La Caixa bank ups stake in Hong Kong BEA

MADRID: Spain's largest savings bank La Caixa said Wednesday it had reached an agreement to raise its stake in the Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia to 14.99 percent from 9.81 percent for 331 million euros (476 million dollars).

Under the agreement, La Caixa's investment arm Criteria would increase its holding by fully subscribing to a BEA capital hike, the bank said in a statement.

Criteria president Isidro Faine said the unlisted bank's position in BEA "offers a unique exposure to a market whose long-term growth perspectives are really exceptional."

La Caixa, controlled by the Catalonian regional government of northeastern Spain, has progressively been increasing its stake in BEA, which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, since it first entered its capital in 2007.

The two banks have been working together for years in the areas of trade finance and remittances business.