MILAN Nov 20 (Reuters) - Intesa Sanpaolo banking foundation shareholders have never talked about a possible merger between Italy's largest retail bank and peer UniCredit , the chairman of the Carisbo foundation said on Tuesday.
Despite a flurry of denials by executives at both lenders, sources close to the situation said discussions about a possible merger were initiated by banking foundations that are core shareholders in the two banks and are worried about their low market value.
"Absolutely not, we never talked about that... we suspect that this project never existed and was made up by journalists," Carisbo foundation chairman Fabio Roversi Monaco told reporters at the end of a board meeting at Mediobanca.
The Carisbo foundation has 2.7 percent of Intesa Sanpaolo. (Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro, writing by Anotnella Ciancio, editing by Danilo Masoni)