Top Carige investor looking for buyer for bank's stake

MILAN Wed May 28, 2014 1:51pm EDT

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MILAN May 28 (Reuters) - The cash-strapped banking foundation that is the top investor in Italy's Banca Carige is still seeking a buyer for part of its stake in the mid-sized lender after a disappointing share placement earlier this month, a source close to the foundation said.

The Carige foundation has a stake of 29.85 percent in the lender, one of 15 Italian banks being scrutinised by European regulators, and is looking to cut its holding to 19 percent.

Earlier this month it sold an 11 percent stake in the bank, which is planning to launch an 800-million euro rights issue next month to bolster its finances.

The size of the stake was smaller than what the foundation had wanted to place, and it had to sell at a deep discount, prompting a sharp fall in the bank's shares.

"We are still looking for a partner to cut the stake to 19 percent," the source said.

The source added the foundation may take legal action to seek compensation after the bank's former chairman Giovanni Berneschi was arrested on May 22 over allegations of fraud.

(Reporting by Andrea Mandala, writing by Silvia Aloisi)

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