MILAN, Jan 27 (Reuters) - 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 base.
“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 Merriman)