MILAN, July 27 Italy's UniCredit is
close to selling a new portion of its private equity holdings
after a similar deal in 2013, a source close to the matter said
on Sunday, as European banks shed non-core assets to strengthen
their capital base.
Banks across the euro zone are under pressure to bolster
their balance sheets, which are under scrutiny in a health check
of the sector whose results will be unveiled in the autumn.
Daily Il Sole 24 Ore said on Sunday UniCredit was close to
selling to a vehicle controlled by SwanCap Partners a
significant part of its remaining 1.5 billion euro ($2 billion)
private equity investment portfolio, along the lines of a
similar 1 billion euro deal in 2013.
UniCredit last year spun off the private equity arm of its
German unit HypoVereinsbank (HVB) to create SwanCap Partners. It
then sold a portion of HVB's private equity holdings to SwanCap
Opportunities Fund, a fund managed by SwanCap Partners.
"UniCredit is expected to announce a deal similar to the one
it did a year ago," the source said. "More private equity assets
should be spun off to SwanCap Partners," it added without giving
UniCredit, Italy's biggest bank by assets, had no comment.
It was not immediately possible to contact SwanCap Partners.
In May, UniCredit CEO Federico Ghizzoni said it was
considering the sale of more of HVB's private equity
investments. At the time, a source familiar with the matter said
the value of the transaction would be around 1 billion euros.
HVB said in its annual report that the private equity
spin-off reflected the bank's continued focus on its core
business and anticipated regulatory changes and uncertainties
regarding future restrictions on private equity investments for
Il Sole also said rival Intesa Sanpaolo is
considering selling its private equity holdings. The paper said
investment manager Neuberger Berman could be interested.
Intesa and Neuberger Berman were not immediately available
(Reporting by Valentina Za, editing by Lisa Jucca and David