Top shareholder in Italy's Carige bank says open to new investors
MILAN Aug 29 (Reuters) - The top shareholder in Italian mid-sized lender Banca Carige, which needs to shore up its capital by 800 million euros ($1.1 billion) by the end of this year, said it was ready to cut its stake in the bank to lure new investors.
Carige, which will be subject to the supervision of the European Central Bank from 2014, needs to shore up its capital to comply with stricter Basel III rules.
The lender is selling assets in an attempt to avoid a big share issue that would substantially dilute the holding of the Carige foundation, a charitable entity with close ties to local politicians which owns 46.6 percent of the bank.
In a statement dated Aug. 28 and sent to media on Thursday, the head of the Carige foundation said it had repeatedly stated it was willing to reduce its stake to allow one or more shareholders to buy into the bank.
The timing and manner of any stake reduction would have to be decided by the foundation's board, the statement by the foundation's chairman, Flavio Repetto, said.
Shares in Carige rose 4 percent by 1141 GMT, outperforming a 1 percent rise in Italy's all-share stock index.
Carige's managing director said earlier this month the bank would decide on the need for a possible rights issue by September.
The Genoa-based lender's core Tier 1 ratio - a key measure of financial strength - stood at 6.2 percent at the end of June, one of the weakest in Italy.
It has sold its asset management unit for 101 million euros and said it had received several expressions of interest for its insurance activities, but the asset disposal plan appears to be progressing slowly.
The bank's capital-boosting plan has also been complicated by a power struggle between the foundation and the bank's long-standing chairman Giovanni Berneschi.
Carige has called a shareholder meeting on Sept. 30 to appoint a new board after a majority of its directors resigned in a move which sources close to the matter said was designed to remove Berneschi. ($1 = 0.7496 euros) (Reporting by Andrea Mandala; Writing by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Pravin Char)