Unipol likely to sell Mediobanca stake on the market-sources
MILAN Aug 23 (Reuters) - Italian insurer Unipol is likely to sell on the market a 3.8 stake in Mediobanca that it must dispose of for antitrust reasons, sources close to the matter said, confirming a press report which hit shares in the Italian bank on Friday.
Italy's antitrust body asked Unipol to sell the stake by the end of the year when it authorised its controversial takeover of peer Fondiaria-SAI, which at the time was saddled by debt and losses and already a shareholder in Mediobanca.
The sources confirmed a report in Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore saying Unipol is likely to place its Mediobanca shares on the market rather than sell them to the other members of a Mediobanca shareholders' agreement.
Shares in the Milanese bank fell 2 percent at 1332 GMT on Friday, underperforming a flat Italian blue-chip stock index , with traders citing the prospect of the Unipol's stake hitting the market.
"I believe the stake will be sold on the market," one of the sources close to the matter said.
The Mediobanca's shareholder pact members could dissolve the pact already at a meeting scheduled in September and ahead of an year-end deadline for its renewal.
"At the September meeting Unipol can withdraw and then it is free to sell," the source said.
Shareholders bound by the agreement must first offer Mediobanca shares they are planning to sell to other members of the pact.
"I don't believe any member has expressed an interest so far," another source said.
"I don't see who right now would have the money or, even if they did, would be interested in raising their stake," the second source added. "Unipol selling on the market was always going to be the most likely scenario."
Unipol and Mediobanca had no comment. (Reporting by Andrea Mandala, Writing by Valentina Za, Editing by Lisa Jucca)