One of Spain’s top banks, Santander, is making a bid to buy the British banking firm Abbey plc, the mortgage lending firm which used to be a building society (what Americans would know as a Savings and Loan).
I do not have much to say about the specifics of the deal. It is all a part of the merger, acquision and disposal process which is a healthy part of capitalism and the efficient allocation of scarce capital. Maybe the shareholders of either firm have strong views on the matter but I do not. However, what is interesting to me is what this deal says about Spain’s development as an economic power.
Spain is one of the success stories of the past few years. When I went to the glorious city of Barcelona last year I was struck by how prosperous and dynamic the place was. I hear and read similar impressions from other sources. Much of this has to do with the determination of Spanish entrepreneurs to throw off the shackles of former failed socialist policies and embrace a more liberal economic culture, which former centre-right premier Aznar helped spawn. Let us hope the new socialist government elected earlier this year in rather shameful circumstances after the Madrid bombings does not mess it up.
It would be a grave error to infer too much from the acquisitive activities of a Spanish bank in Britain. But I get the feeling that this grand old nation is flexing its economic muscles again, and who knows, making a distinct improvement to the quality of Britain’s economy while getting richer as well. Good. It feels appropriate somehow. There are hundreds of thousands of British expatriates living in Spain so it perhaps fitting that Spain’s biggest companies are trying to get a piece of the action in the UK.
(As an aside, I would like to know what the Spanish-based blog Iberian Notes makes of this).