October 29, 2018 / 10:58 AM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 1-BPER is one of possible partners for Unipol Banca- Unipol CEO

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MILAN, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Italian regional lender BPER is one of the possible partners for a tie-up with Unipol Banca, the CEO of Unipol group Carlo Cimbri told daily la Repubblica on Monday.

Financial group Unipol is already a shareholder in BPER with a stake of 15 percent.

Cimbri, however, ruled out his group would “fully consolidate’ BPER if it were to merge with Unipol Banca.

“Our role will remain that of an important shareholder, but nothing more,” Cimbri told la Repubblica.

BPER declined to comment on the report.

Unipol, which also owns the country’s second-largest insurer UnipolSai, has been increasing its stake in BPER and has been authorised by the European Central Bank to buy up to 20 percent of the regional bank.

Last summer, Unipol increased by about 5 percent its share in BPER, with the aim of boosting the growth prospects of the lender, with which it already has a bancassurance partnership agreement.

But in August Cimbri said he did not intend to go above the 20 percent threshold.

Last year, Unipol shifted 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) of bad loans at Unipol Banca to a special vehicle to get the banking unit ready to take part in the expected consolidation of Italy’s banking system.

BPER is expected to present a new business plan later this year. According to daily Il Sole 24 Ore, the strategy will be presented in November, potentially announcing a tie-up with Unipol Banca. ($1 = 0.8762 euros) (Reporting by Francesca Landini and Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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