MILAN Jan 27 Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di
Siena is seeking a financial investor to help revive the ailing
lender and will remove a current cap on voting rights to help
raise 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), its chairman said.
"I would like to have a long-term financial investor,"
Alessandro Profumo told Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore in
an interview published on Sunday. "Nationality is not a problem.
The important thing is that it believes in our project".
Late on Saturday the Bank of Italy gave its approval to
Monte Paschi's request for 3.9 billion euros ($5.3
billion) of state loans, which Profumo said would be issued by
The central bank's backing was the final stage required to
free up the financial help for Italy's third-biggest lender,
which this week revealed loss-making derivatives trades that
could cost it about 720 million euros.
In October, investors cleared a 1 billion euro share issue
as part of its business plan, which Profumo said would be
launched by the end of 2015.
Shareholders in the world's oldest bank on Friday approved
two additional capital boosting measures for a combined 6.5
billion euros to be used in case the bank is not able to pay
back the loans and interest with cash.
Profumo said he was confident the bank would generate enough
cash to pay back the state bailout over the next five years and
may not need to turn to investors to raise the 6.5 billion
euros, which he described "theoretical" guarantees.
"We believe in this. The objective is to return to profits
already during the course of this year," he said.
The bank will remove its current 4 percent cap to voting
rights before launching the 1 billion euro cash call, he added.
The move would encourage investors who could end up with more
than 4 percent stakes to participate.
The scandal around opaque Monte Paschi trades is widening
fast and Italian media have reported that public prosecutors are
investigating a large number of derivatives contracts.
The issue has shot to the centre of the campaign for next
month's national election and has prompted questions about how
the deals, which were conducted between 2006 and 2009 and
involved Japanese bank Nomura and Deutsche Bank
, could have been hidden from regulators.
Monte Paschi was already under investigation over its 9
billion euro cash acquisition of smaller lender Antonveneta from
Spain's Santander in 2007.
In an interview with La Repubblica daily on Sunday, Monte
Paschi Chief Executive Fabrizio Viola said he had no evidence at
this time that any crime had been committed, but the bank would
not hesitate to protect its interests by taking legal action
should any crime be ascertained by judges.