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May 10, 2012

Monte dei Paschi – a legacy of power and history

SIENA, May 10 (Reuters) – Monte dei Paschi di Siena was
lending money before Columbus discovered America, before the
Spanish Inquisition and before Henry VII defeated Richard III at
the Battle of Bosworth to become king of England.

With that kind of history behind it, one could be excused
for thinking that the bank and the powerful “foundation” that
controls it, have seen it all.

May 10, 2012

Monte Paschi executives say “surprised” by probe

SIENA, Italy, May 10 (Reuters) – Monte dei Paschi’s
top executives expressed surprise on Thursday at the
scale and timing of a judicial probe over the pricey acquisition
of smaller rival Antonveneta from Spain’s Santander,
agreed in 2007.

Bank Chairman Alessandro Profumo and CEO Fabrizio Viola,
both recently appointed to turn around the fortunes of the
world’s oldest lender, said the investigation would not delay
their restructuring plans.

May 3, 2012

Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi names Viola as CEO

MILAN, May 3 (Reuters) – Italy’s No. 3 lender Banca Monte
dei Paschi di Siena named Fabrizio Viola as its new
chief executive on Thursday, as the world’s oldest bank revamps
its management team to restore its profitability.

Born in Rome, the 54-year old, stout Viola is the first CEO
in Monte dei Paschi’s history and a rare outsider at the helm of
the bank together with Genoa-born Alessandro Profumo, who was
formally appointed chairman last week.

May 1, 2012

Scandal-hit Northern League fears setback at Italy polls

COMO, Italy (Reuters) – Tarnished by a widening corruption scandal, Italy’s Northern League is fighting to contain damage at local elections next week, but even its usually feisty founder Umberto Bossi is not holding out much hope.

“With all the problems we’ve had, these polls will be difficult for us,” a subdued and tired-looking Bossi said at a sparsely attended rally near Como, a lakeside city in the rich Lombardy region that is one of the party’s strongholds.

Apr 27, 2012

Monte Paschi appoints ex-UniCredit boss as chairman

SIENA, Italy, April 27 (Reuters) – Former UniCredit boss
Alessandro Profumo got a taste of the challenge he faces as
Monte dei Paschi’s new chairman when angry shareholders lamented
the lender’s weak results on Friday and demanded a drastic
change in strategy to restore profitability.

The top shareholder in Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena
, Italy’s No. 3 lender, said the bank’s 2011
performance had been disappointing and particularly feeble in
the fourth quarter, unlike that of its domestic rivals.

Apr 26, 2012

Govt debt woes bigger pain for Italy’s banks than Spain’s

MILAN, April 26 (Reuters) – Italian banks face a tougher
task than their Spanish peers as both come under political
pressure to buy domestic government bonds to offset reduced
demand from foreign investors, posing risks to Italy’s attempts
to refinance its borrowings.

While Spain’s struggle to reduce its debt pile has been
unsettling financial markets in recent days, its banks are in a
better position to step in and help with purchases of government
bonds than their counterparts in Italy.

Apr 19, 2012

Fondiaria seeks better Unipol deal, probe widens

MILAN, April 19 (Reuters) – Italy’s No.2 insurer
Fondiaria-SAI said on Thursday it would seek improvements to a
deal that would see it rescued by peer Unipol, but a widening
judicial probe into the Fondiaria group risks complicating any
agreement between the two sides.

Italy’s tax police said earlier that they had seized a 20
percent stake in Premafin, the holding company controlling
Fondiaria-SAI.

Apr 19, 2012

UniCredit to keep Italian govt bond holdings stable – CEO

MILAN, April 19 (Reuters) – Italian lender UniCredit
plans to keep its Italian government bond holdings at
the current levels of around 38 billion euros ($50 billion),
chief executive Federico Ghizzoni said.

The bank has around 13-14 billion euros of Italian bonds
maturing this year and will roll them over, and does not intend
to increase its overall exposure.

Apr 16, 2012

Insider trading fine casts cloud over BTG Pactual IPO

By Silvia Aloisi and Steve Slater

(Reuters) – AndrĂ© Esteves, the billionaire boss of Brazil’s BTG Pactual, has been fined 350,000 euros ($457,900) by Italy’s financial regulator for insider trading, just 10 days before his investment bank’s looming stock market listing.

BTG Pactual said its activities would be unaffected by the ruling against Esteves, who owns 24 percent of the Brazilian bank, making him one of Brazil’s richest executives. But it will force the bank to amend its prospectus, give investors the option of reconsidering bids for BTG shares, and puts a cloud over one of this year’s highest profile bank deals.

Apr 16, 2012

Unipol sets conditions for Fondiaria-SAI merger

MILAN (Reuters) – Italian insurer Unipol (UNPI.MI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) laid down its conditions on Monday for pressing ahead with the rescue of peer Fondiaria-SAI (FOSA.MI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), saying it wanted to own 66.7 percent of the new merged group that would become Italy’s No. 2 insurer.

In January, Bologna-based Unipol agreed to a complex 1.7 billion euro (US$2.22 billion) deal to save Fondiaria-SAI through a four-way merger that involves three capital hikes.