UPDATE 1-Businesswoman to head Monte Paschi top shareholder
(Adds foundation statement, details on Mansi)
* Antonella Mansi named new head of Monte Paschi foundation
* Foundation has 33.5 percent stake in scandal-hit bank
* Appointment follows weeks of wrangling between local politicians
By Silvia Aloisi
MILAN, Sept 2 (Reuters) - The top shareholder in Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy's third largest lender, picked a Siena-born businesswoman as its new head on Monday, ending weeks of wrangling among local politicians.
Antonella Mansi, a 39-year old executive at her family chemicals business who also chairs a small private bank, was appointed chairwoman of the Monte dei Paschi foundation, which has a 33.5 percent stake in the bank, the foundation said in a statement.
Mansi, a deputy chairwoman at business lobby Confindustria, takes on her new role at a time when Banca Monte dei Paschi is mired in a scandal and the foundation is cutting its stake in the lender to pay back debt.
The foundation has close ties to local politics in Siena and the surrounding Tuscany region and sits at the centre of a web of local control and political patronage that critics say helped bring it and the bank close to financial collapse.
A manager at family company Nuova Solmine, a sulphuric acid producer, Mansi is also chairwoman of Banca Federico Del Vecchio, a small Florence-based lender focusing on wealth management. Born in 1974, she becomes one of a handful of women to get a top job in the Italian banking industry.
Mansi's appointment follows three inconclusive meetings of the foundation's board last month as the Siena city council, the province and the Tuscany region failed to agree on a common candidate.
The three local governments - all controlled by the centre-left Democratic Party - name half of the 14 members who sit on board of the foundation, which in turn appoints half of the bank's board members.
Monte dei Paschi had to request a 4.1 billion euro state bailout earlier this year to plug a capital shortfall, the only major Italian bank to need government support.
The bank is the subject of a high-profile probe into its costly acquisition of a smaller rival in 2007 and a series of loss-making derivatives trades.
The foundation, which until last year owned a 49 percent stake in the lender, has cut its stake to pay back creditors after running up big debts to keep control of the bank.
It still has 350 million euros of debts to reimburse and is looking to further reduce its holding. The bank's chairman, Alessandro Profumo, said last month the foundation would end up with a stake of less than 10 percent.
The appointment of a new head at the foundation was supposed to herald a new era of independence from politics, but weeks of wrangling between the different local authorities involved in the decision suggest their influence is still strong.
Italian media last month quoted the new mayor of Siena Bruno Valentini as dismissing one of the candidates touted for the job, former ECB executive board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, because he has "more the skills of a banker than the head of the foundation". (Reporting by Silvia Aloisi and Stefano Bernabei; editing by Paola Arosio and David Evans)
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