September 30, 2015 / 3:12 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Libyan sovereign fund happy with investments in Italy

(Adds LIA chairmanship contested)

MILAN, Sept 30 (Reuters) - The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) is happy with its investments in Italy and intends to keep its stakes in blue-chip companies such as UniCredit and Eni, the chairman of the sovereign fund told Reuters on Wednesday.

Set up in 2006 to manage Libya’s oil revenue surplus, the LIA is the largest sovereign wealth fund in Africa.

But four years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is in turmoil with two rival governments and their armed forces battling for control, creating uncertainty over its investments.

The LIA is also at the centre of a bitter power struggle. Its leadership is contested by AbdulMagid Breish, who represents the LIA based in Tripoli, and its staff are trying to trace those responsible for billions of dollars of missing money.

“We are satisfied with our Italian portfolio,” said LIA chairman Hassan Bouhadi, who is backed by the internationally-recognised Libyan government, on the sidelines of a sovereign wealth fund conference in Milan.

Bouhadi, who has been head of the fund since October last year, met with Italian economy minister Padoan on Wednesday morning to discuss cooperation with Italy.

The LIA holds a stake of around 1.25 percent in Italy’s biggest bank by assets UniCredit and also holds stakes of less than 2 percent in oil major Eni, utility Enel, defence group Finmeccanica and car maker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Asked if the LIA would be prepared to subscribe to any possible capital increase UniCredit might make in the future, Chief Investment Officer Ahmed Amoush said the fund would be ready to sustain any capital increase.

In May the bank restored ties with its Libyan shareholders that had previously run into difficulty after a temporary seizure of Libyan assets in Italy.

However, in June UniCredit CEO Federico Ghizzoni said the stake of around 4 percent owned by Libyan investors, including the LIA, was “in effect blocked”.

The LIA, which has a total assets worth $67 billion, has an equities portfolio of $8.6 billion. Around 30 percent, or $2.46 billion, of that portfolio consists of Italian investments. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Paola Arosio Editing by Valentina Za and Mark Potter)

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