Shareholders in Spanish lender CaixaBank on Tuesday approved its takeover of Banca Civica, which will make it Spain's biggest bank by assets, the company said.
"This operation will make the bank the leader in the Spanish market, with more than 13 million customers and assets worth 342 billion euros of which 231 billion are in credits," Caixabank said in a statement.
The takeover, first announced in March and approved by shareholders at a meeting in Barcelona where the bank is based, will put Caixabank ahead of the giants Santander and BBVA in the value of its assets.
"The incorporation of Banca Civica will require no public aid and will be at no cost to the rest of the financial sector," Caixabank added.
The announcement came at a time of high tension over Spain's banks, which have been undergoing a costly restructuring after being severely weakened by the collapse of a property boom in 2008.
The government on Monday formally requested rescue funds from its eurozone partners to secure the banking sector.
Concern over the banks in Spain, the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy, has pushed the country's borrowing costs up to dangerous levels and economists warn Spain may be heading for a broader sovereign bailout.
Spain has not declared the exact amount it will borrow to stabilise its banking sector, but independent auditors have estimated it will need up to 62 billion euros out of the 100 billion the eurozone has offered.
According to the auditors' studies presented by the government last week, Caixabank, Santander and BBVA are strong enough not to need rescue funds.
Former customers of smaller savings banks that have been swallowed up in three years of restructuring say they lost savings when they were talked into converting them to shares which have since lost value.
A small group of demonstrators rallied outside the Caixabank shareholder meeting on Tuesday to protest against how these savers had been treated, waving signs with messages such as "Bankers, robbers, give us back our savings".
Caixabank announced in March that it would buy Banca Civica for 977 million euros.
CaixaBank is currently Spain's third-biggest by market capital and was born July 1, 2011, when Caixa savings bank group listed its retail banking activities.
Banca Civica also made its debut in July after it was formed from the merger in 2010 of the regional savings banks Caja Navarra, Cajasol, Caja de Burgos and CajaCanarias.
In May Banca Civica announced plans to cut 1,500 jobs, equivalent to a fifth of its staff, in the merger with Caixabank.