Three Spanish savings banks -- Ibercaja, Liberbank and Caja3 -- said on Tuesday they are studying a possible merger which would create Spain's seventh-biggest lender with 120 billion euros ($150.4 billion) in assets.
In separate statements, the three banks said that their boards would meet later on Tuesday to vote on the merger, which would come as the government forces lenders to increase the funds they hold to cover bad loans.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government this month instructed Spain's banks to set aside an extra 30 billion euros in 2012 in case property-related loans go bad, on top of 53.8 billion euros required under reforms enacted in February.
Banks have until June 11 to show how they plan to meet the new capital demands and June 30 to put forward any merger plans.
The International Institute of Finances, grouping about 450 banks worldwide, estimates Spanish bank loan losses could hit 260 billion euros and the industry will likely need about 60 billion euros in outside help.
Ibercaja and Caja3 had said in February that they were planning to merge.
Caja3 emerged from the merger of three regional savings banks while Liberbank was created from the merger of four regional savings banks.