MADRID - Banco Santander SA (STD) plans to list its fast-growing Mexican unit later this year and has begun preparations to sell 25% of the unit in an initial public offering, Chief Executive Alfredo Saenz said Thursday.

"The decision to sell 25% in a listing has been taken, the timing hasn't," Saenz said on a conference call with analysts. "It will be done in 2012 if market conditions don't change and the preparation for the IPO has begun."

People familiar with the matter told Dow Jones Newswires earlier this week that Santander is looking to list the Mexican bank and that it is looking for a valuation of between $15 billion and $20 billion for the unit.

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