| MILAN, July 4
MILAN, July 4 Italy's biggest bank UniCredit
may consider a partnership for its business that
manages 42 billion euros ($54.24 billion) in bad loans following
interest from international investors, banking sources said on
"Blackstone is interested in the company," said a source
familiar with the activity of the U.S. investment firm in Italy.
A banking source said other investors were looking at the
business, which has the largest portfolio of assets under
management in Italy.
"UniCredit is weighing the possibility to find a partner ...
among other options," the second source said.
UniCredit could cut the amount of capital it is required to
hold to back the bad loans in the business - called Credit
Management Bank - if an investor took a share in it, one analyst
Regulators require banks to set aside certain amounts of
capital to cover their bad loans.
One of the sources said it was unlikely a deal could be
reached by the beginning of August, when quarterly results are
due to be published.
UniCredit declined to comment, while Blackstone did not
immediately respond to a request to comment.
As of 31 December 2012, Credit Management Bank had a total
portfolio of loans worth 45.2 billion euros, according to a
report by rating agency Fitch.