MILAN May 26 Athena Capital said on Monday its
stake in Banca Popolare di Milano (BPM) had fallen
following a 497 million euro ($678 million) share sale by the
Italian bank, and it would not invest any more money in BPM
unless it implemented reforms.
The fund, through which Italian investor Raffaele Mincione
previously held 7 percent of the bank, bought some shares in the
fundraising, but not enough to maintain its stake at that level.
Its holding has fallen to about 5.7 percent, according to
Athena said it would not invest further in BPM, one of 15
lenders targeted by a European Central Bank health check, as
reforms prescribed by the Bank of Italy to give institutional
investors more influence have stalled.
"The lack of resolution achieved by current management of
acknowledged governance problems ... could soon become an
insurmountable obstacle to the bank's future growth," Athena
said in a statement.
A 2011 audit of BPM revealed excessive exposure to real
estate among other issues and prompted the Bank of Italy to
force it to apply larger risk-weightings than its peers to
calculate capital ratios that measure financial strength.
BPM repaid 500 million euros in state aid a year ago.
($1 = 0.7336 Euros)
(Reporting by Andrea Mandala, Writing by Isla Binnie; Editing
by Mark Potter)