RLPC-Santander sells 2.5 bln euro loan portfolio

By Claire Ruckin and Owen Sanderson

LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Spain's Banco Santander has sold a 2.5 billion euro ($3.23 billion) loan portfolio to Bank of America Merrill Lynch , banking sources said on Thursday, part of efforts by Spain's banks to plug a capital shortfall.

Bankia is also getting ready to sell a 500 million euro loan portfolio, banking sources said on Thursday.

Santander, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Bankia declined to comment.

The sale is the biggest single loan portfolio sale by a Spanish bank since the euro zone crisis intensified, banking sources said. BBVA has already sold around 1 billion euros of loans on an individual basis this year, banking sources said. ($1 = 0.7751 euros)

(Additional reporting by Tessa Walsh. Editing by Tessa Walsh and Jane Merriman)

((tessa.walsh@thomsonreuters.com)(+44 207 542 4048)(Reuters Messaging: tessa.walsh.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))