* Salvatore Ligresti suspected of obstructing Consob
* Ligresti declines to comment
* Fondiaria-SAI shares underperform
MILAN, July 15 Salvatore Ligresti, the main
owner of Italy's largest auto insurer Fondiaria-SAI SpA
, is being investigated over allegations he obstructed
market regulator Consob, judicial sources said on Friday.
The Milan prosecutor is looking into whether Ligresti
withheld information from Consob about meetings he had with
French businessman Vincent Bollore and a top Italian banker on
French insurer Groupama taking a stake in the Italian insurer,
The banker is Alessandro Profumo, the former chief executive
of UniCredit which is taking a 6.6 percent stake in
Fondiaria-SAI via a capital increase after Groupama's interest
was rebuffed, they said.
The judicial sources confirmed reports in La Stampa and Il
Messaggero dailies on Friday.
A spokeswoman for Ligresti declined to comment.
The sources said magistrate Luigi Orsi has asked Ligresti to
answer their questions next Thursday.
In March, a court in the Italian city of Florence ordered
79-year-old Ligresti to stand trial on corruption charges.
Efforts to support the loss-making and weakly-capitalised
Fondiaria-SAI began last year.
In the autumn, Bollore built up a 5 percent stake in
Premafin , which is controlled by the Ligresti family
and is the main owner of Fondiaria-SAI.
Subsequently, Groupama said it wanted stakes of up to 20
percent in Premafin and Fondiaria-SAI but was told by Consob it
would have to bid for both companies, something which Groupama
was not keen to carry out.
The Ligrestis and Groupama ended talks in March.
Instead, Fondiaria is carrying out a 450 million euros
($637 million)rights issue which ends on Friday. UniCredit is
buying rights in the issue from Premafin and will invest a total
of 170 million euros for its 6.6 percent stake.
At 1316 GMT Fondiaria-SAI shares were down 1 percent,
underperforming the STOXX Europe 600 insurance index
which was down 0.34 percent.
(Reporting by Manuela D'Alessandro, Writing by Nigel Tutt;
Editing by Erica Billingham)