Executive at top Monte Paschi shareholder quits on stake sale plan

ROME Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:57pm EST

The Monte dei Paschi bank headquarters is pictured in Siena August 16, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

The Monte dei Paschi bank headquarters is pictured in Siena August 16, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

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ROME (Reuters) - The vice chairman of a foundation that is the main shareholder in Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI), Italy's third-largest bank, has resigned less than three months into the job, the foundation said on Friday.

The foundation's statement did not give a reason for Giorgio Olivato's resignation, the second high-profile departure at the not-for profit entity in less than a month.

Two sources close to the situation told Reuters, however, that Olivato opposed the foundation's newly approved strategic plan, which envisages the sale of part or all of its 33.5 percent stake in Monte dei Paschi to pay debts.

The cash-strapped foundation is under pressure to sell its shares quickly because the bank plans a 2.5 billion euro capital increase by the end of 2014, which is likely to weigh on the stock price, several bankers with knowledge of the situation have said.

The sale will be a major shift for the foundation, which has close ties to local politicians and until 2011 ran up big debts to keep control of the bank. It has since gradually reduced its stake but would lose its blocking minority if it cuts its stake further.

Monte dei Paschi Chief Executive Fabrizio Viola said on Thursday the first window for the bank to launch the capital increase would be January 2014. The Tuscan lender, the world's oldest, received a 4.1 billion euro state bailout earlier this year to plug a capital shortfall.

Olivato had been appointed vice chairman on September 2 when the new head of the foundation, businesswoman Antonella Mansi, took office.

He is the second senior executive to resign after director general Claudio Pieri left on October 29.

(Reporting by Stefano Bernabei; writing by Silvia Aloisi; editing by Jane Baird)

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