MILAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Italy’s biggest insurer Assicurazioni Generali said on Friday it had bought 510 million shares in Intesa Sanpaolo equal to a 3.04 percent stake, effectively blocking the lender from acquiring a large stake in itself.
Intesa has said it is studying a possible combination with the insurer in a deal that would create a financial powerhouse with a market value of around 60 billion euros ($64 billion).
The stake acquisition replaces a 3 percent holding in Intesa that Generali had taken through a securities lending transaction last month. The insurer said on Friday that it had launched the process to terminate that securities transaction.
According to Italy’s cross-shareholding regulations, a company cannot hold more than 3 percent of another entity’s voting rights if the latter already has a stake of more than 3 percent in the former one.
However, the limits would no longer apply should Intesa launch a takeover bid for at least 60 percent of Generali’s share capital.
At Friday’s closing price, the 3.04 percent stake in Intesa is valued at around 1.1 billion euros. ($1 = 0.9422 euros) (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; editing by Silvia Aloisi)