Spanish banking giant BBVA said Thursday it reached an agreement to sell its operations in Puerto Rico to Oriental Financial Group for $500 million in cash.

Among the businesses being sold are BBVA Puerto Rico and BBVA Seguros Inc., which were not strategic operations, having a market share of only 5.9 percent, BBVA spokesmen told Efe.

BBVA Puerto Rico, which has 37 branches and about 950 employees, ranks No. 7 among the eight institutions operating in Puerto Rico.

The sale of BBVA Puerto Rico will allow BBVA to focus on its expansion in the United States, where it operates in the South via BBVA Compass.

Oriental Financial Group, which is based in San Juan, is also acquiring 100 percent of BBVA PR Holding Corporation and BBVA Securities of Puerto Rico.

BBVA PR Holding Corporation owns 100 percent of the stock of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Puerto Rico and BBVA Seguros.

These two businesses had assets of about $5.2 billion at the end of the first quarter, accounting for less than 1 percent of BBVA's total assets, and deposits of approximately $3.3 billion.

"We are very pleased to announce this transaction, which combines two of the healthiest banks on the Island to create a market leading bank that is strongly capitalized, locally controlled and totally focused on serving the needs of Puerto Rico businesses and consumers," Oriental Financial Group president and CEO Jose Rafael Fernandez said in a statement.

Closing of the deal is subject to approval from regulators, the companies said.

BBVA, which is led by CEO Francisco Gonzalez, recently announced plans to divest other operations in Latin America.

The Spanish banking giant said a few weeks ago that it planned to sell the Provida, Bancomer, Horizonte Colombia and Horizonte Peru pension management companies for up to $3.7 billion. EFE