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MILAN, May 6 (Reuters) - Italian insurer UnipolSai Assicurazioni has almost doubled its stake in BPER Banca and is considering a deal to combine the small lender with Unipol Group's banking unit, La Repubblica reported on Saturday.
** UnipolSai, part of Unipol Gruppo Finanziario, is said to have increased its stake in BPER to 9.99 percent from 5.01 percent, the paper said, citing financial sources.
** UnipolSai Chairman Carlo Cimbri, who also serves as the CEO of Unipol Group, is discussing with the Bank of Italy a proposal to put a cleaned-up Unipol Banca into BPER and for the insurer to be allowed to increase its stake in the combined entity, the paper said.
** Unipol declined to comment. BPER could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Valentina Za; editing by Alexander Smith)