United Kingdom

Stefano Bernabei

UPDATE 2-Bank of Italy warns public debt could rise more than forecast this year

31 May 2019

ROME, May 31 The Bank of Italy warned on Friday that the country's $2.6 trillion of debt may swell this year by more than the government forecasts and called for "credible" measures to curb it.

Italy's CDP to up stake in payment services group SIA: sources

29 May 2019

ROME/MILAN Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) is set to tighten its grip on payment services group SIA, increasing the chances of a potential tie-up with SIA's bigger rival Nexi at a later stage, sources said on Wednesday.

Italian bank fund won't plug entire Carige capital hole: sources

13 May 2019

ROME Italian banks will not step in to plug a capital shortfall at regional lender Banca Carige after U.S. fund manager BlackRock pulled out of a planned rescue bid, sources said, making a state bailout for the bank more likely.

UPDATE 1-Italian bank fund won't plug entire Carige capital hole-sources

13 May 2019

ROME, May 13 Italian banks will not step in to plug a capital shortfall at regional lender Banca Carige after U.S. fund manager BlackRock pulled out of a planned rescue bid, sources said, making a state bailout for the bank more likely.

RPT-ANALYSIS- Will the Benettons use Alitalia to fly in from the cold?

22 Apr 2019

* Government desperate to find investors for flagship carrier

Will the Benettons use Alitalia to fly in from the cold?

19 Apr 2019

MILAN/ROME Italian transport group Atlantia could join a rescue of loss-making flag carrier Alitalia to try to win favor with the government and secure the future of its own domestic business following a deadly bridge collapse last year, sources said.

BlackRock's plan for Italy's Carige sees higher cash call: sources

18 Apr 2019

ROME/MILAN Troubled Italian bank Carige could need a larger-than-expected cash injection of at least 700 million euros ($791 mln) under a rescue plan put forward by U.S. asset manager BlackRock, two sources familiar with the matter said.

CORRECTED-Italian banks to discuss Carige rescue on Wednesday -sources

17 Apr 2019

ROME, April 17 Italian banks will discuss on Wednesday whether to back the latest rescue plan for Banca Carige by taking a stake alongside a fund owned by U.S. asset manager BlackRock, two sources close to the talks said.

Italian savers approve compensation scheme in a boost to economy minister

08 Apr 2019

ROME Associations representing thousands of Italian savers who were left out of pocket by a string of banking collapses in recent years on Monday approved a government compensation scheme.

RPT-UPDATE 2-Italy state lender seeks truce between Telecom Italia investors Vivendi and Elliott - sources

28 Mar 2019

(Repeats from Wednesday) * Italy's CDP in talks with Vivendi - sources * Compromise could include more balanced board make-up - sources * Elliott may be willing to find accord after AGM - source By Agnieszka Flak , Elvira Pollina and Stefano Bernabei MILAN/ROME, March 27 Italy's state lender is seeking to broker a truce between Telecom Italia's (TIM) two warring investors, France's Vivendi and U.S. activist group Elliott, to end a boardroom battle that has paralysed the group, sources said. Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), controlled by the treasury and now TIM's second biggest investor behind Vivendi, is in talks with the French group to iron out an agreement, two sources familiar with the discussions said. Vivendi and Elliott have been trading blows for more than a year over how to revive Telecom Italia (TIM), the slumbering telecoms heavyweight saddled with more than 25 billion euros ($28.12 billion) of debt. The next showdown will take place at a shareholder meeting on Friday, where Vivendi's proposal for a board reshuffle to reduce Elliott's influence is expected to be rejected. CDP, which began investing in TIM last year to safeguard Rome's interest in a company it sees as strategic, has recently almost doubled its stake to just under 10 percent. "There are contacts between Vivendi and CDP and there are signs of wanting to find common ground," one of the sources said, adding details would be discussed after Friday's AGM. In an emailed statement, CDP denied that it was holding talks with Vivendi or other TIM shareholders. Elliott was not currently involved in the talks, the people added, although a separate source said the U.S. fund might be open to finding some sort of accord after the AGM. A truce between Vivendi and Elliott could speed up the creation of a single network operator, a project backed by the CDP but which is one of the main bones of contention between Elliott and Vivendi. Investors say the acrimonious bickering between Vivendi and Elliott, which has cost TIM's shares a third of their value over the last year, has done little to revive the former monopoly. They say that the two sides need to bury the hatchet and allow management to push through measures to slash debt, tackle competition and pursue strategic options to boost value. "This conflict has made it impossible for TIM's management to implement any kind of strategy, defend its market share or fight growing competition," said Emanuele Vizzini, general manager at Milan-based investment fund Investitori Sgr. His fund cut most of its TIM stake due to the governance battle. TIM has underperformed bigger peers such as Deutsche Telekom and Orange for years, is facing new rivals in both broadband and mobile, and its Brazilian business is only gradually recovering from economic malaise. Elliott wrested control of TIM's board last May after blaming Vivendi for serving its own interests. It advocated for a more radical shake-up of the telecoms group. The protracted boardroom battle led to the ousting in November of CEO Amos Genish, a Vivendi ally who was replaced by Luigi Gubitosi, who was appointed to the board by Elliott. On Friday, Vivendi seeks to replace Chairman Fulvio Conti and four other Elliott-backed directors, citing "substantial lack of independence" and accusing them of conspiring to fire Genish. It will likely lose the vote, with three influential proxy advisers urging shareholders to vote against the proposal. But with Vivendi owning nearly a quarter of TIM and able to block many extraordinary measures, getting the French to play ball is vital to get things done, sources said. A possible compromise could include a more balanced board make-up and a new chairman appointed by the CDP, sources said. Elliott controls two thirds of the 15-strong board. While the activist fund had been pushing for TIM to spin off its network and merge it with smaller rival Open Fiber, Vivendi has opposed TIM losing control of its biggest asset. CDP, which co-owns Open Fiber with utility Enel, is keen to ensure that the project to create a single network becomes a reality, also to avoid duplicating investments. Now that CDP's clout at TIM is growing, Vivendi can ill afford to have strained relations with the state lender. "Going against the CDP would mean going against the Italian state ... that's different than just fighting Elliott," one of the sources said. ($1 = 0.8891 euros) (Additional reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic in Paris Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Alexander Smith)

World News

Iran shoots down U.S. military drone in Gulf region

Iran on Thursday shot down a U.S. military drone that it said was flying over one of its southern provinces on the Gulf, increasing fears of military conflict as Washington seeks to isolate Tehran over its nuclear and regional activities.