UPDATE 1-Saipem shares fall as traders cite fund placement

Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:00am EST

Related Topics

* Fidelity placed 2.3 pct stake - traders

* Saipem being probed in Algeria corruption case

* Another fund cut stake in December

* Shares fall over 3 percent (Releads, adds analyst and company comment, background)

MILAN, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Shares in Italy's Saipem fell on Tuesday, with traders citing a placement of a 2.3 percent stake by an investment fund, just weeks after news of a corruption probe in Algeria involving the oil services group.

"Bank of America placed 9.97 million shares at 30.65 euros each," one trader said. Two other traders also reported the placement, adding the seller was Fidelity.

Saipem and Fidelity were not immediately available for comment.

In December investment fund Capital Research and Management said it had reduced its stake in the company to 1.347 percent from 4.908 percent.

Saipem, controlled by Italian oil and gas major Eni , came under investigation last year for alleged corruption in Algeria prompting the resignation of long-standing chief executive Pietro Franco Tali.

The company, which says it acted in compliance with the law, said the probe was looking into activities up through 2009.

The chief financial officer of Eni, who had been CFO at Saipem until 2008, also resigned.

"Saipem is going through a difficult moment with the management change and the scandal in Algeria," a Milan energy analyst said.

Analysts are concerned about the possible repercussions on Saipem's business in Algeria and possible fines.

Saipem, Europe's biggest oil services group, has worked on several contracts in Algeria with state energy firm Sonatrach.

Eni has considerable gas field assets in the country. Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said in December he did not see any impact on Eni's results from the case.

At 0955 GMT Saipem shares were down 3.1 percent at 30.57 euros. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Giancarlo Navach; Editing by Mark Potter)

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