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UPDATE 1-Call for Carige CEO exit may delay bank's recovery plan
May 31, 2017 / 3:28 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Call for Carige CEO exit may delay bank's recovery plan

* Top shareholder wants CEO out ahead of planned cash call

* Carige shares fall by more than 8 percent

* Bank’s core capital below ECB’s recommended level (Adds no comment from Malacalza)

By Valentina Za

MILAN, May 31 (Reuters) - Genoa-based Banca Carige , one of Italy’s problem banks, may have to delay a restructuring after its biggest shareholder called for the removal of its chief executive.

Carige’s board will hold a no-confidence vote on June 9 on Guido Bastianini, who took the helm in April 2016 after top investor Vittorio Malacalza removed his predecessor. Italian media said Bastianini might resign before the vote.

Bastianini’s departure would create more uncertainty over Carige’s future and add to the pressure on Rome, which is already negotiating a state bailout for larger rival Monte dei Paschi di Siena and two Veneto-based lenders.

Loss-making Carige, which is heavily exposed to the northwestern Liguria region where it is based, has seen its bad debts swell during Italy’s deep recession.

The European Central Bank has told Carige to halve its gross soured loans to 3.7 billion euros by the end of 2019. It also recommended keeping a core capital ratio of at least 11.25 percent -- above a level of 10.9 percent at the end of March.

Carige, which declined to comment, is working to shed bad debts and plans to raise 450 million euros ($504 million) this summer in its third cash call since 2014.

But this could be delayed after the bank said on Tuesday its top shareholder and Deputy Chairman Malacalza had told the board he no longer had confidence in the CEO.

Carige’s shares were down 5.9 percent by 1515 GMT on Wednesday, having earlier lost as much as 8.4 percent.

“The bank’s situation remains fragile,” broker Banca Akros said. “Negotiations with (ECB supervisors) may have to start again once the top management will be renewed.”

Malacalza, a local businessman who has 17.6 percent of Carige, has also criticised the bank’s chief financial officer. He told the board he would step down as deputy chairman if his stance was not backed by a large majority of directors.

Malacalza became Carige’s top shareholder after investing 263 million euros, partly via the bank’s 2015 cash call at 1.17 euros per share. The stock traded at 0.2337 euros on Wednesday.

The bank’s second biggest shareholder is another local entrepreneur with a 6 percent stake.

To comply with the ECB’s demands, Carige on Tuesday approved a first sale of 940 million euros in bad debts, repackaged as securities with a state guarantee.

It is looking for investors in a vehicle where it plans to spin off residual bad loans worth 2.4 billion euros.

Carige is also considering converting equity of up to 660 million euros in bonds. Italian media said Malacalza and the CEO clashed over the size of the debt swap as the businessman feared an excessive dilution of his stake.

A spokesman for Malacalza declined to comment. ($1 = 0.8936 euros) (Editing by Jane Merriman and Alexander Smith)

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