As part of a strategy to refocus its retail banking operations on Europe and the Mediterranean, Credit Agricole is mulling to sell its Uruguayan subsidiary, Credit Uruguay Banco, to the local unit of Spanish banking group Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA).

Reportedly, Brazil-based Banco Itau, Uruguay-based Banco Comercial and HSBC had also evinced interest in purchasing the French retail banking group’s local subsidiary.

Credit Agricole has 36 branches in Uruguay. At the end of 2009, it held approximately $1.25bn of assets and $1.17bn of liabilities.

BBVA has nine branches in Uruguay. BBVA’s assets for 2009 were $912m while its liabilities stood at $838m.

Once the transaction is completed, the new entity is expected to emerge as Uruguay’s major private bank after Spain’s Banco Santander .

However, the transaction is expected to last several months and will need authorization by the country’s central bank.