By Stefano Bernabei and Gianluca Semeraro
ROME/MILAN Feb 13 Italy's top two banks,
UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, are in talks
to set up a vehicle to pool restructured loans with a nominal
value of 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion), two sources close to
the matter said on Thursday.
UniCredit CEO Federico Ghizzoni confirmed this week
negotiations were underway between two banks and U.S. fund KKR
as Italian lenders strive to clean up their balance
sheets while European regulators conduct a sector-wide
Ghizzoni said a decision would have to be taken by mid-2014.
"The initial nominal value should be around 1 billion
euros," said one of the sources. Another source said more
problematic loans could be put in the vehicle later.
As of September 2013 Intesa and UniCredit had a combined
10.6 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in gross restructured loans.
Pooling some of the loans would allow UniCredit and Intesa
to sell them and get them off their balance sheet.
The sources said two options were being considered: one was
to set up a vehicle for the loans which would then issue
asset-backed bonds; a second possibility would be to create a
vehicle in which UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo could take a
stake alongside KKR and corporate restructuring specialist
Alvarez & Marsal.
Intesa, UniCredit and KKR declined to comment. Alvarez &
Marsal was not immediately reachable for comment.