Loss-making Monte dei Paschi, which received 4.1 billion euros
($5.58 billion) of state aid last year after being hit by the
sovereign debt crisis and a derivatives scandal, is looking to raise
3 billion euros in fresh capital.
But the bank was forced to delay the cash call until mid-2014 after
its top investor with 33.5 percent, a charitable foundation with
links to local politicians, said it needed more time to sell down
its stake to pay back creditors.
Without naming a source, the paper said investment bank Lazard, an
advisor to the foundation, had restarted talks with the Qatari fund
which began last year on the basis of a price of 0.20-0.21 euro per
share, valuing a 15-20 percent stake in the bank at 368-490 million
The paper added, however, that this was above the 0.15-0.16 euros
per share the Qatari fund was willing to offer.
Monte Paschi shares closed at 0.18 euros on Friday.
The foundation declined to comment on the report, but has previously
said that talks with foreign investors were ongoing. The Qatar fund
could not immediately be reached.
The report also said the Qatari fund might be willing to subscribe
to a portion of unsubscribed shares in Monte Paschi's cash call,
hoping to take its stake in Italy's third-largest bank to 25
Both the bank's chairman and chief executive said at an event on
Saturday they hoped the foundation will conclude the sale of its
shares as soon as possible so the bank's ownership structure can be
established ahead of the rights issue.
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Apart from Monte Paschi, the newspaper report said the Qatari fund
was also looking at other Italian banks and was "very active" on
UniCredit <CRDI.MI>, the country's biggest lender by assets, in
which it was considering buying a stake.
The fund was also looking at possible investments in smaller lenders
Banca Carige <CRGI.MI> and Banco Popolare <BAPO.MI>. According to
the report, the fund had already expressed an interest in
participating in Banco Popolare's 1.5 billion euro capital increase
due in April.
Apart from the Qatar fund, Lazard has also sounded out a sovereign
fund in Oman about buying Monte Paschi foundation's shares in the
bank, the paper said.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak in Milan
and Stefano Bernabei in Rome; editing by Stephen Powell)
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