MILAN Jan 27 Veneto Banca's CEO said the bank
is prepared to consider possible merger proposals with the help
of Goldman Sachs, in line with a recommendation by
Italy's central bank.
Unlisted Veneto Banca is one of 15 Italian lenders under
scrutiny by the European Central Bank as it checks the health of
the banking sector before taking over supervision of euro zone
banks in November from national regulators.
"We respect suggestions and indications coming from the Bank
of Italy, which I imagine are guided by particular prudence
ahead of the single European supervisor," Chief Executive
Vincenzo Consoli told Affari&Finanza weekly. "We will look at
possible options with adviser Goldman Sachs."
The central bank has told Veneto Banca to consider possible
mergers after an on-site audit as part of efforts to strengthen
Italy's fragmented banking system and shore up lenders' capital
"If anyone is interested then it is welcome to make an
offer," Consoli was quoted as saying.
There has been speculation about a merger between Veneto
Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza, another cooperative lender
located, like Veneto Banca, in Italy's wealthy north-east.
Consoli declined to say whether the Bank of Italy was
encouraging a specific merger with Banca Popolare di Vicenza,
"If (Popolare Vicenza) believes our bank is interesting then it
should present a good proposal and as a board we have no choice
but to assess it and present it to shareholders," Consoli said.
Consoli said that a merger would mean selling or closing
down branches as the two banks are present in the same areas.
(Reporting by Valentina Za; editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Jane