* Investigations part of probe into Unipol-Fondiaria merger
* Unipol says it and managers acted properly, transparently
* Unipol shares down more than 7 pct
(Adds Unipol statement, Consob)
MILAN, May 22 The chief executive of Italian
insurer Unipol has been placed under investigation for
alleged market rigging in a case related to the company's merger
with Fondiaria-SAI, two sources close to the investigation said
Unipol agreed to buy troubled rival Fondiaria in 2012 in a
complex rescue operation that was held up by a series of
regulatory and legal hurdles.
The merger created UnipolSai, Italy's No. 2
insurance group behind Assicurazioni Generali, and was
officially completed on Jan. 6 this year.
Two sources familiar with the matter said Carlo Cimbri, who
is chief executive of both Unipol and UnipolSai, was placed
under investigation by Milan prosecutors in the probe.
In a statement Unipol, which controls UnipolSai, said that
until Thursday it had received no request for information or
clarification about the merger and denied any wrongdoing.
"The company now hopes for the conclusion of such
investigations in a short time in the belief they will confirm
the absolute correctness and transparency of the actions of the
Unipol Group and of its representatives," it said.
Milan prosecutors are probing the Fondiaria group over a
number of alleged irregularities by its previous owners and in
the run-up to the merger.
They also suspect that Unipol did not accurately account for
its large structured derivatives portfolio and that this had an
impact on the setting of the share swap ratios for the tie-up
with Fondiaria, according to judicial sources.
As part of the investigations the Italian tax police carried
out searches at the headquarters of UnipolSai in Bologna on
Thursday, a source said.
A spokesman for market regulator Consob said the police had
also asked it for documents regarding the operation which it had
UnipolSai shares closed down 3.8 percent while Unipol shares
ended the day down 7.3 percent.
(Reporting by Manuela D'Alessandro; Writing by Stephen Jewkes;
Editing by Paola Arosio, Tom Pfeiffer and Mark Potter)