Italy - Factors to watch on Jan. 31

Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:52am EST

The following factors could affect Italian markets on Thursday.

Reuters has not verified the newspaper reports, and cannot vouch for their accuracy. New items are marked with (*).

BANCA MONTE DEI PASCHI DI SIENA

* French lender BNP Paribas may be interested in buying a stake in the troubled Tuscan lender as well as Qatar and Singapore sovereign funds, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Thursday.

Moody's said on Wednesday it had placed the Ba2 rating of Italy's No. 3 bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena on review for a possible downgrade to reflect uncertainty over the impact of a number of structured trades.

Prosecutors are investigating the former management of Italy's troubled Monte dei Paschi bank for bribery and fraud, judicial sources said on Wednesday, as pressure grew on the Bank of Italy and bourse watchdog Consob.

The secret document at the heart of the Monte dei Paschi banking scandal lay for months in a concealed safe in a 14th century Tuscan palace.

Monte Paschi said on Wednesday that there were no risk of any extraordinary losses from a trade called "Chianti Classico", denying a report in an Italian magazine.

The bank has been put under investigation by Italian magistrates in Siena under a law on company responsibility for crimes committed by its staff, a judicial source said on Wednesday.

A probe by Italian magistrates into Monte Paschi concerns only the lender's previous management, Siena public prosecutor Tito Salerno said in a statement on Wednesday.

The bank said it was not aware of any tax checks regarding the sale of a Rome-based property. 

* MEDIASET

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi could sell a minority stake of Italy's broadcaster Mediaset, La Repubblica reported on Thursday. Berlusconi could even set up a blind trust to resolve a conflict of interest issue ahead of a general election scheduled on Feb. 24-25.

UNICREDIT

Italy's UniCredit said it had raised around 890 million euros from the sale of a 9.1 percent stake in Poland's No. 2 bank Pekao on Wednesday, confirming what sources had told Reuters.

FIAT

Fiat said on Wednesday its debt grew by about 1 billion euros in 2012 as European car sales tumbled 14 percent, leaving the Italian carmaker ever more dependent on strong growth at its Chrysler U.S. unit.

Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said the Italian automaker would like to see the minority holder of U.S. affiliate Chrysler Group LLC sell out as soon as possible.

The carmaker will discuss long-delayed investments at its giant Mirafiori factory in the coming months, said CISL union leader Raffaele Bonanni after a meeting with Fiat management on Wednesday.

FIAT INDUSTRIAL

The company will report results on Thursday.

SAIPEM

Italy's market regulator Consob said on Wednesday it had decided to ban short selling on the shares of Italian oil service group Saipem starting on Thursday.

An unexpected profit warning from Europe's biggest oil services company sent shockwaves through the buoyant sector on Wednesday and drew investor ire as billions were wiped off the Italian company's market value.

(Milan newsroom, +39 02 6612 9507, fax +39 02 801149, milan.newsroom@news.reuters.com))

For Italian market data and news, click on codes in brackets:

20 biggest gainers (in percentage)............

20 biggest losers (in percentage).............

FTSE IT allshare index

FTSE Mib index........

FTSE Allstars index...

FTSE Mid Cap index....

Block trades..........

Stories on Italy...... IT-LEN

For pan-European market data and news, click on codes in brackets: European Equities speed guide................... FTSEurofirst 300 index.............................. DJ STOXX index...................................... Top 10 STOXX sectors........................... Top 10 EUROSTOXX sectors...................... Top 10 Eurofirst 300 sectors................... Top 25 European pct gainers....................... Top 25 European pct losers........................ Main stock markets: Dow Jones............... Wall Street report ..... Nikkei 225............. Tokyo report............ FTSE 100............... London report........... Xetra DAX............. Frankfurt market stories CAC-40................. Paris market stories... World Indices..................................... Reuters survey of world bourse outlook......... Western European IPO diary.......................... European Asset Allocation........................ Reuters News at a Glance: Equities............... Main currency report:...............................