The bank was apparently in talks with a number of interested parties over plans to divest the 22% stake it holds in Union Fenosa, Spain’s third largest electricity provider.

Banco Santander was the largest single shareholder in Union Fenosa, and reports in the Spanish press had linked the Amancio Ortega, the man behind the investment house that controls the Zara fashion chain, to the possible purchase of the stake, with a rumored $2.4 billion price tag.

However Banco Santander – the owner of UK retail bank Abbey – has now revealed that it has agreed to sell the stake to Actividades de Construccion y Servicios, a leading construction firm, for E2.2 billion.