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Barclays tapping potential buyers for Spanish assets.Reuters

Barclays is reportedly tapping buyers for its Spanish retail bank, and local competitors and private equity firms are being touted as potential bidders for various parts of the business.

Among those sounded out are Spain's top banks Santander, BBVA and Caixabank, Reuters has reported.

Barclays is tapping bidders with preliminary information about the Spanish division and confidentiality agreements, the report said.

Smaller player Bankinter may also want to acquire private banking operations from Barclays, while private investment firms are expected to fight for the Spanish retail network.

New York-based Centerbridge Partners, which bought real estate loan servicing firm Aktua from Santander in Spain and has bid for debt packages being sold by local banks, could be a potential bidder.

Leon Black's New York-based buyout firm Apollo Global Management, which bought Spain's Evo Banco, is also named as a potential contender.

Pursued by Reuters, Centerbridge could not immediately be reached for comment. The other firms refused to comment.

The British bank may have to break up the Spanish unit or sell off loans if it fails to secure a bid for the entire division. Spanish banks are downsizing themselves as they recover from an economic slump and a real estate crash.

A deal could see Barclays leave behind a team of investment bankers behind to handle dealmaking in a recovering Spanish economy.

Restructuring Drive

As part of the group's strengthened strategy of moving more towards High Street than Wall Street, Barclays confirmed this month 19,000 job cuts over the next three years along with the restructuring of a number of units.

Barclays shut or sold 161 branches in Spain in 2013, trimming its network by over a third to 270 branches.

As many as 14 branches were acquired by local savings bank Caja Rural Castilla-La Mancha in October 2013.

Barclays' European retail business has lost about £2bn ($3.4bn, €2.5bn) over the past four years.

Barclays entered Spain with the €1.1bn purchase of Banco Zaragozano in 2003, but ran into problems from huge losses on corporate loans and the recession.