(Adds details of financial results)
MILAN Aug 1 Italy's Banca Carige
posted a first-half net loss of 45.5 million euros ($61 million)
on Friday due to writedowns on its insurance units, higher taxes
and costs to close down branches as part of its restructuring
Carige's loss was much smaller than the 595 million euros it
reported in the first half of last year due to a large goodwill
writedown on two banking units.
The Genoa-based lender, which is in exclusive talks to sell
its Carige Vita Nuova and Carige Assicurazioni insurance units
to an affiliate of U.S. private equity firm Apollo Global
Management, booked a 23 million euro charge on goodwill
writedowns on the two units.
It also wrote down the value of properties owned by the two
insurers, after magistrates in May arrested the bank's
long-standing former chairman along with six others on suspicion
they had forced the two units to buy assets inflated prices for
their own profit.
Carige is restructuring under new chief executive officer
and turnaround expert Piero Montani after a balance-sheet
clean-up led to a 2013 loss of 1.7 billion euros. The bank said
a recently completed 800 million euro share sale had boosted its
best-quality Common Equity Tier 1 capital to 9.9 percent of
That is above an 8 percent threshold set by the European
Central Bank (ECB) in a check-up of lenders across the euro zone
this year. Carige is one of 15 Italian banks targeted by the
The bank said it had repaid slightly more than half of 7
billion euros in emergency funds borrowed by the ECB at the
height of the euro zone crisis.
The bank plans to borrow around 750 million euros from the
ECB when it next offers a new round of cheap loans later this
year as part of a scheme aimed at spurring bank lending.
To keep credit risk in check as Italy's economy struggles to
leave behind the worst recession in 70 years, Carige cut loans
to clients by 7 percent in the period.
Loan writedowns totalled 167 million euros in January-June,
down 30 percent from a year earlier. ($1 = 0.7449 Euros)
(Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Lisa