* Probe linked to Lactalis bid for Parmalat
* Banks probed for administrative responsibilities -source
* Parmalat shares up 0.08 pct, sector down
(Adds Lazard under investigation, second source)
By Emilio Parodi
MILAN, May 12 Milan prosecutors have included
banks Intesa Sanpaolo, Lazard and the Italian unit of France's
Societe Generale in their probe into French dairy group
Lactalis's bid for Parmalat, two sources involved in the probe
said on Thursday.
Tax police are investigating possible market-rigging and
insider trading linked to Lactalis's takeover of Parmalat
(PLT.MI), Italy's biggest dairy group.
Lactalis, Europe's largest dairy company, acquired 29
percent of Parmalat in March and offered 3.4 billion euros
($4.75 billion) for the rest of the company last month in its
bid to create the world's largest dairy group.
Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI), Lazard (LAZ.N) and Societe
Generale (SOGN.PA) have been placed under investigation for
possibly failing to prevent potentially illegal conduct by
employees, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Four people under investigation include Fabio Cane, head of
special projects and private equity at Intesa Sanpaolo's
(ISP.MI) investment bank, and his wife Patrizia Micucci, the
head of Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) investment banking in Italy,
according to a search warrant seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
The others are Lazard (LAZ.N) Italy Chairman Carlo Salvatori
and Massimo Rossi, a former chief executive at Swedish Match
SWAMA.ST. Three foreign investment funds had picked Rossi to
be interim chief executive at Parmalat.
Cane is under investigation for alleged insider trading and
the others for alleged market-rigging, the warrant said.
Intesa Sanpaolo had no immediate comment. Lazard was not
immediately available for comment. A Societe Generale
spokeswoman said the bank was cooperating with the Italian
authorities and confirmed that the Italian tax police had
visited its offices in Milan in relation to Parmalat.
Prosecutors say in the warrant that Cane had "privileged
information" about the price that Intesa Sanpaolo had offered
the foreign funds for their overall 15.3 percent stake in
Cane then allegedly passed the information to his wife and
Lactalis offered a higher price, the warrant said. Micucci,
Rossi and Salvatori also allegedly had released "false news"
that had affected the Parmalat share price, it said.
Tax police raided the Italian offices of French bank Credit
Agricole (CAGR.PA), Societe Generale, Lazard, Intesa Sanpaolo,
two public relations firms, a home of one of the suspects
and an investment fund on Wednesday as part of the inquiry.
Under Italian law, companies who have their offices searched
are not necessarily being investigated. Lactalis has said it is
not under investigation.
Parmalat is due to report first-quarter results on
Thursday. Its shares were up 0.08 percent at 2.638 euros at 1243
GMT. The STOXX 600 Europe food and beverage index .SX3P was
down 0.33 percent.
(Additional reporting by Elisa Anzolin and Valentina Za in
Milan and by Matthieu Protard in Paris; Writing by Ian Simpson;
Editing by Paola Arosio and Will Waterman)