Italian bank fund could take Carige stake in BlackRock rescue – Intesa CEO
By Gianluca Semeraro
TURIN, Italy (Reuters) – A rescue plan for Italy’s Carige by U.S. asset manager BlackRock would allow a fund financed by Italian lenders to take part in a cash call at the Genoa-based bank, the chief executive of Intesa Sanpaolo said on Tuesday.
Carlo Messina said the BlackRock proposal was consistent with a restructuring plan drafted by Carige’s temporary administrators which allowed the Italian banking fund to take a stake by converting debt into equity.
Italian banks propped up Carige in November by buying a 320 million euro (£276 million) hybrid bond to beef up its total capital via the voluntary-contribution arm of a depositor guarantee fund.
Messina told shareholders that Intesa indirectly held 25.3 percent of that bond through the fund.
“It appears the deal proposed by BlackRock is in line with the relaunch plan drawn up by the bank’s commissioners,” Messina said at Intesa’s annual general meeting.
The European Central Bank (ECB) appointed temporary administrators to run Carige at the start of the year after the top shareholder in Italy’s 10th-largest bank in December blocked a 400 million euro cash call.
The cash call was part of an industry-financed rescue that would have seen lenders convert the 320 million euro bond.
The commissioners are now looking for a buyer to fill a capital shortfall which has swelled to 630 million euros.
However, sources have said the BlackRock plan may envisage an even bigger cash call to build up a capital buffer.
The ECB has extended until mid-May a bid deadline to give more time to BlackRock, the only known potential buyer through one of its funds specialising in restructuring.
(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro, writing by Valentina Za, editing by Maria Pia Quaglia and Alexander Smith)
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