(Changes first sentence to read "given" instead of "asked")
MILAN, March 25 Unicredit has given prospective buyers of its debt collection business Credit Management Bank until the beginning of April to submit outline offers, two sources close to the matter said on Tuesday.
As part of a wider effort to strengthen its balance sheet, Italy's biggest bank by assets plans to sell off a portfolio of around 4 billion euros of non-performing loans along with a majority stake in Credit Management Bank itself, the sources said.
Verona-based Credit Management Bank currently manages more than 40 billion euros ($55 billion) of commercial and consumer loans, more than a third of Italy's entire non-performing loans market. In the past around a quarter of the total loans managed by CMB have been directly owned by the bank, an analyst said.
"Investors interested in Credit Management Bank have received a document with the relevant data on the company and will file non-binding offers by the beginning of next month," one of the sources said.
UniCredit declined to comment on the issue.
Unicredit is in the throes of restructuring its balance sheet as it prepares for the financial health checks which European regulators plan to conduct on their banks this year.
Earlier this month the bank posted a record annual net loss of 14 billion euros due in part to further heavy writedowns on bad debts.
The bank aims to have a Tier 1 common equity capital adequacy ratio under new Basel III industry rules of 10 percent of risk-adjusted assets by 2016, up from 9.4 percent at the end of 2013 and well above a minimum regulatory requirement of 8 percent. ($1=0.7255 euros) (Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Greg Mahlich)