Quoting various sources, the paper said that Novo Banco "is destined to fall into the hands of the Chinese, who will pay more than €4 billion for China’s biggest acquisition of a European financial institution".

Spanish bank Santander and the US funds Apollo and Cerberus are also in the running.

The paper said that the possible Chinese purchase of Portugal’s third largest bank for more than €4 billion is of some concern to other bankers regarding the greater and greater investment by the Chinese in European financial services.

However, it added, “there is a general sense of relief among Portuguese bankers that the sale of Novo Banco" is going to cover the costs of the €4.9 billion they sank into saving Novo Banco, then BES, last year, "something many thought impossible a few months ago ".