Italy's Del Vecchio expected to raise Mediobanca stake just above 10% soon -sources

MILAN/ROME, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Eyewear tycoon Leonardo Del Vecchio plans to increase his stake in Italy’s Mediobanca only slightly in the short term to just above 10%, after being given European Central Bank approval to increase it to nearly 20%, sources said on Friday.

Del Vecchio, who founded Luxottica - the company behind Ray Ban sunglasses - is Mediobanca’s biggest shareholder with a 9.9% stake. He filed a request with the ECB on May 29 to increase his holding above 10%, after building up his stake in Mediobanca last year, to the surprise of the market and the bank’s management.

Del Vecchio’s holding company Delfin said on Wednesday that he had secured ECB approval to raise his stake in the Milan-based investment bank to 19.9%.

Two sources close to the matter said the ECB cleared the request without imposing conditions, considering it a “financial” investment.

A spokesman for the ECB declined to comment.

Since Del Vecchio had no strategic intentions for Mediobanca, he did not have to submit any plan for the bank, the sources said.

The sources said Del Vecchio had committed to support the bank’s current management, adding that he can appoint up to two board members but would not necessarily do so.

Under European Central Bank rules, shareholders in euro zone banks must gain ECB approval to increase their stakes above 10% and then again to take a stake above 20%.

Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi, Stefano Bernabei, Gianluca Semeraro Editing by Susan Fenton