BBVA Bank Shares 1% Higher

Shares in Spain's second-largest bank BBVA opened 1 percent higher on Thursday after sources told Reuters it had a government-run auction of troubled Texas lender Guaranty Financial Group Inc.

The Wall Street Journal also cited sources familiar with the matter as saying that BBVA had won the auction, with the deal expected to be announced by the end of this week. BBVA has declined to comment , Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, BBVA is one of the strongest banks in the world, having avoided many of the troubles staggering the industry by sticking to the humdrum business of taking deposits and making loans. That play-it-safe strategy puts the Spanish bank in position to pick up pieces of banks that won't survive, and analysts have been expecting BBVA to pounce.

The bank's current U.S. operations include roughly 600 branches scattered from Florida to California, most of them acquired in the 2007 takeover of Compass Bancshares Inc., based in Birmingham, Ala. Earlier this year, Francisco González, BBVA's chairman and chief executive, told Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila C. Bair that the bank was interested in buying assets from failed U.S. banks, according to people familiar with the meeting , Wall Street Journal reports.

However, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA won the bidding to take over ailing Texas lender Guaranty Financial Group Inc. , people familiar with the matter said, becoming the second Spanish bank to buy a U.S. lender this year.

The acquisition, arranged by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., follows the $1.9 billion purchase by Spain’s Banco Santander SA of Philadelphia-based Sovereign Bancorp Inc. in January. BB&T Inc. last week acquired Alabama’s Colonial BancGroup Inc. in a deal also brokered by the FDIC , Bloomberg reports.

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