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UPDATE 2-Banca Carige postpones asset sale decision to Thursday-source
July 22, 2014 / 8:46 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 2-Banca Carige postpones asset sale decision to Thursday-source

* Talanx makes offer for Banca Carige insurance assets-paper

* Carige aiming for price of about 400 mln euros - paper

* Wants to sell insurance assets to raise capital (Recasts with comment from source)

By Valentina Za and Oleg Vukmanovic

MILAN, July 22 (Reuters) - Italy’s Banca Carige has postponed a decision on the sale of its insurance assets until Thursday, a source close the bank said, after a media report about an offer from a German insurer pushed shares in the mid-sized lender higher on Tuesday.

Banca Carige, one of 15 Italian banks seeking to pass a regulatory health check of lenders across the euro zone, has long been trying to sell its Carige Vita and Carige Assicurazioni insurance units to shore up its capital base.

CEO Piero Montani, who was brought in last autumn to oversee a turnaround of the beleaguered bank, has repeatedly said Carige aimed to complete a sale by the end of this year.

Italian daily Il Messaggero reported Carige’s board would discuss on Tuesday a bid from Germany’s Talanx. The paper said the Genoa-based bank was aiming for a price of about 400 million euros ($539 million).

“After discussing at length the offers on the table, the board decided to adjourn any decisions on the matter to a new meeting called on Thursday,” the source said.

Carige had no comment.

Shares in Carige rose as much as 2.9 percent and closed up 2 percent, in line with Milan’s all-share index.

Talanx, which declined to comment on the matter, has previously said it was keen on bolt-on acquisitions outside Germany worth up to 250 million euros.

Carige completed this month an 800 million euro share sale in a bid to push its best-quality Common Equity Tier 1 capital above a minimum 8 percent threshold set by the European Central Bank (ECB) for banks in its review of the sector.

Carige posted a 2013 net loss of 1.76 billion euros as it put aside cash against loan losses and wrote down the value of past acquisitions in a balance-sheet clean up under new management.

The bank has been trying to sell its insurance units for more than a year but a regulatory audit slowed down the process.

Following the audit, which ended in early 2014, regulators told the bank to inject at least 92 million euros into its Carige Assicurazioni unit.

In a further setback, the bank’s former chairman was arrested in May along with six others on suspicion they had forced Carige Vita to buy assets at an inflated price for their own profit, prosecutors said.

$1 = 0.7424 Euros Additional reporting by Alexander Huebner in Frankfurt; Editing by Luca Trogni and Mark Potter

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