Spain's BBVA sells auto insurer stake to AXA

MADRID, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Spain's second-biggest bank BBVA said on Friday it had sold its 50 percent stake in auto insurer Direct Seguros to French insurer AXA for 49 million euros ($63 million).

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria will make capital gains of 27 million euros from the sale, said sources close to the deal.

The deal, which is pending permission from competition authorities, will confirm AXA as one of the leading players in the Spanish insurance market, the firms said in a joint statement. Direct Seguros has around a 20 percent share in the direct auto insurance market, with over 300,000 clients.

The bank will now focus on home and life insurance but will continue to sell Direct Seguros products at its branches.