REFILE-Monte Paschi top shareholder sells 8 pct stake -newspapers

Thu Mar 6, 2014 3:02am EST

MILAN, March 6 (Reuters) - The top shareholder in Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena has sold a stake in the troubled Italian bank, three newspapers said on Thursday.

The Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena, a charitable foundation, sold a stake in the bank of around 8 percent for 0.16-0.17 euros ($0.22-$0.23) to investors including U.S. hedge fund Och-Ziff, Il Sole 24 Ore reported, without naming sources.

Il Messaggero said a stake had been sold and also named Och-Ziff as a buyer.

Il Fatto Quotidiano reported the foundation had sold at least 8 percent of its 30 percent stake to foreign investors. It said Och-Ziff invested about 300 million euros in buying the stake at 0.15-0.17 euros per share.

Il Sole said the foundation cashed in around 200 million euros from the sale to Och-Ziff.

Och-Ziff and the Monte Paschi Foundation were not immediately available to comment.

Shares in Monte Paschi soared 20 percent in heavy volume on Wednesday, and three sources close to the situation and a financial source said the banking foundation might have sold a stake.

Monte Paschi shares closed 19.2 percent higher on Wednesday at 0.22 euros. The 1.5 billion shares changing hands represented about 12 percent of the bank's capital.

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