Bank of Italy seeks stronger powers over bank acquisitions
MILAN Oct 29 (Reuters) - Italy's central bank wants to beef up the way it oversees acquisitions by banks after it was severely criticised earlier this year following a scandal at Monte dei Paschi.
Italy's third-biggest bank has been rocked by a furore over opaque derivatives deals connected with the 9 billion euro acquisition of its rival Banca Antonveneta in 2007, just before the start of the global financial crisis.
The central bank has defended its supervision of the deal and said its powers to block banks' acquisitions were limited.
The Bank of Italy can already veto largescale deals but now wants wider powers over the acquisition of small lenders, according to a document posted on its website.
The regulator wants to be told about the acquisition of a small rival 90 days before the finalisation of a deal, compared with 30 days now.
When an Italian lender acquires a rival worth more than 10 percent of its regulatory capital or a bank based outside the European Union it is already obliged to ask for authorisation from the regulator.
The central bank now wants to be able to stop deals which would pose a risk to the buyer, either by blocking them in advance or by ordering the sale of a stake which gives control over a lender, whatever its value.
The new rules aim to adopt two European directives on the financial sector. They are under public consultation until Nov. 20.
The Bank of Italy aims to publish a final versions of the rules by the end of this year. (Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by David Cowell)