Banco Santander SA of Spain is squeezing some much-needed capital out of its U.S. operations with a deal to sell a minority stake in its Dallas auto lender to a private-equity consortium.

The Madrid banking giant, under pressure to bolster its balance sheet amid Europe's debt woes, will book a capital gain of $1 billion from the sale of 35% of Santander Consumer USA. Three well-known buyout shops — Warburg Pincus, Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts, and Centerbridge Partners — and the lending unit's chief executive, Thomas Dundon, agreed to acquire it. The four parties are investing $1.15 billion, which will help the fast-growing Santander Consumer make more loans through the 13,000 auto dealers it works with around the country.

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