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Banco Santander buys $400M stake in UK fintech Ebury

Banco Santander announced that it will acquire a majority stake in U.K.-based Ebury, a U.K.-based trade and foreign exchange fintech for small and medium sized businesses, for 350 British pounds ($400 million).

Banco Santander will acquire 50.1% for 350 million pounds, with 70 million ($90 million) to be comprised of new primary equity to support Ebury's plans to enter new markets in Latin America and Asia. 

Banco Santander officials said the investment will further strengthen its global trade services business and consolidate its position as the "bank of choice" for SMEs either trading or aspiring to trade across Europe and the Americas and later in Asia. 

"Small and medium sized businesses are a major engine of growth around the world, creating new jobs and contributing up to 60% of total employment and 40% of national GDP in emerging economies," Ana Botin, group executive chairman at Banco Santander, said in a company release. "SMEs are becoming increasingly global and Santander is the best positioned bank to play a leading role to help them access global trade finance."

Botin said the new investment will help Santander get these businesses faster and more efficient products. 

"Combining a big bank with [a] nimble fintech means we can offer our clients the best of both worlds," Ebury founders Juan Lobato and Salvador Garcia said in the release. "They can benefit from our technology and high quality service safe in the knowledge that they are counterparty to one of the world's most important financial institutions."

Santander works with about 1.2 million merchants worldwide, representing 150 billion euros ($167 billion) in annual turnover. 

Ebury will continue to operate as an independent unit, supported by Santander, which has worked to grow its various units, including its Brazilian subsidiary Getnet. 

Sergio Rial, CEO of Santander Brazil and executive sponsor of Santander's Global Trade Services unit, will join Ebury's board as chairman and work closely with Ebury's team, Lobato and Garcia. 

Cover image: Santander.