(Adds details, background)
MILAN May 5 UniCredit is moving
forward on the planned sale of its debt collection unit, as part
of a broader effort by Italy's biggest bank by assets to squeeze
more money out of its large soured-loans portfolio.
The lender will soon let potential buyers of its Credit
Management Bank unit look at its financial data, Chief Executive
Federico Ghizzoni said on Monday.
"We are about to open the data room (to interested
parties)," Ghizzoni told reporters on the sidelines of an event
in Milan. He said investor interest appeared to be high but
declined comment on the number of suitors in the race, or give
"It is not easy (but) we expect to close the deal by the end
of this year," Ghizzoni said.
UniCredit had 82 billion euros ($113.7 billion) in gross bad
loans at the end of 2013.
The bank booked a record 14 billion euros loss last year
after writedowns on bad loans and goodwill, as it lead an
aggressive balance-sheet clean-up among Italian lenders in the
run-up to a regulatory health-check of banks in the euro zone.
According to Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, the bank will
allow a handful of suitors to dig into the data of Credit
Management Bank, which manages more than 40 billion euros of
soured loans owned both by UniCredit and third parties.
The bank is trying to sell off a portfolio of bad loans
together with a majority stake of the debt collection unit to
make bad loan management more effective.
It sold two portfolios of bad debts in recent months and has
signed a deal with Intesa Sanpaolo and U.S. fund KKR
to jointly manage some restructured loans the two banks
are both owed by the same Italian companies.
($1 = 0.7212 Euros)
(Reporting by Francesca Landini and Gianluca Semeraro; Editing
by David Holmes)