(Adds details, Banco Popolare capital increase)
By Silvia Aloisi
MILAN, March 31 The former controlling
shareholder in Monte dei Paschi di Siena has sold a
6.5 percent stake in Italy's third-largest bank to two big Latin
American funds, another sign of foreign investors' appetite for
News of the Monte Paschi foundation's sale to Fintech
Advisory and BTG Pactual Europe follows purchases of shares in
several Italian lenders by BlackRock, the world's
largest asset manager, and sent the bank's shares up more than
11 percent on Monday.
The sale came as another Italian bank, Banco Popolare
, launched a 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) cash call,
with its shares rising almost 9 percent on reports of buying by
The Monte Paschi foundation has sold around 25 percent of
the bailed-out bank in the last two weeks, helped by more
positive investor sentiment towards the Italian economy and the
prospect of banking takeovers.
Italy is slowly emerging from a deep a two-year recession
and the new government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is
fuelling expectations that the country may finally tackle
"The Renzi rally continues," analysts at Credit Suisse wrote
in a report on Monday. "Italian banks look cheap," they said,
adding that "there is significant scope for consolidation ...
(which) should lead to material cost synergies and higher
The foundation, a charitable organisation with strong
political ties with the city of Siena, on Monday said Fintech, a
U.S.-based investment fund owned by Mexican businessman David
Martinez, had bought a 4.5 percent holding.
BTG Pactual Europe, an asset management unit of the
Brazilian investment bank controlled by billionaire financier
André Esteves, purchased 2 percent.
"With this sale the emergency phase is over for the
foundation," the head of the foundation, Antonella Mansi, told
The foundation sold an 18 percent stake in the bank to repay
creditors earlier this month.
The foundation said it had agreed a shareholder pact with
the two newest buyers to stabilise the Tuscan bank's shareholder
The foundation, Fintech and BTG Pactual agreed to keep a
combined 9 percent stake in the bank after a 3 billion euro
capital increase due to be launched at the end of May. The
foundation now owns 5.4 percent.
The cash call is intended to pay back the bulk of 4.1
billion euros in state aid Monte dei Paschi received last year
after it was hit by the euro zone debt crisis and a derivatives
The foundation's latest share sale means that U.S. money
manager BlackRock is now Monte dei Paschi's largest shareholder
with a 5.75 percent stake. It is also the biggest shareholder in
rival UniCredit and the second-largest in Intesa
Corriere della Sera daily quoted the cooperative bank's
chief executive as saying on Sunday that purchases by U.S.
investors were the reason for a 7 percent rise in the stock
price on Friday.
Il Messaggero said on Sunday international investors had
offered to buy 300 million euros worth of the new shares,
quoting sources in the consortium of banks guaranteeing the cash
($1 = 0.7271 Euros)
(Reporting by Silvia Aloisi, additional reporting by Stefano
Bernabei and Claudia Cristoferi; Editing by Erica Billingham)