(Bloomberg) -- A group of investors led by Mexico’s Banca Mifel SA and backed by US private-equity giant Apollo Global Management Inc. are in talks with banks for about $2 billion of financing for their bid to buy Citigroup Inc.’s Mexican retail unit Banamex.
HSBC Holdings Plc, Bank of America Corp., Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria and Banco Santander SA are in advanced discussions with the group, according to people familiar with the matter, requesting anonymity because the discussions are private. The Mifel bid is also backed by Mexican investors including the family that runs Latin America’s biggest real estate investment trust, Fibra Uno, the people said.
The Mifel-Apollo bid is also backed by US private-equity fund Advent International Corp., which already owns a stake in Mifel, one of the people said. Apollo’s backing of Mifel’s bid isn’t final, according to another person.
Mifel, a small Mexican bank with less than 1% of total banking assets in Mexico, is facing off against mining tycoon German Larrea to buy Banamex. New York-based Citigroup launched the sale in January in what was expected to be one of the biggest global bank deals this year. But the number of bidders has dwindled amid a set of conditions set by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, including that the new owners refrain from carrying out mass firings.
Citigroup, Apollo, BBVA, HSBC and Advent declined to comment, and representatives from Santander, Bank of America and Mifel didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Grupo Financiero Banorte’s unexpected withdrawal from the process right after an Oct. 20 deadline for binding offers further reduced the number of bidders after Banco Santander’s earlier $6 billion offer was rejected. Billionaire Carlos Slim’s Inbursa said last week that it was no longer vying for the bank.
Mifel Chief Executive Officer Daniel Becker, who’s also the head of the country’s banking association, has been drumming up other Mexican investors to join its group in a bid to help satisfy Lopez Obrador’s condition that buyers of the bank be Mexican, one of the people said.
Citigroup pushed Larrea for a better offer in late October, but the billionaire, who controls conglomerate Grupo Mexico, sees little reason to increase his bid after the exit of Banorte and the others sucked tension out of the sale process, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Grupo Mexico declined to comment.
--With assistance from Jan-Henrik Förster and Allison McNeely.
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