Foreigners' share of Italy govt bonds 29.7 pct at end-Sept 2015

MILAN, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The share of Italian government bonds held by foreign investors rose slightly in the first nine months of last year to stand at 29.7 percent of the total at the end of September, the Bank of Italy said on Friday.

The central bank’s estimate excludes Italian government bonds bought by central banks in the euro zone and bonds purchased by foreign funds on behalf of Italian residents.

Foreigners’ share of Italian debt is still 12 percentage points below pre-crisis levels, the Bank of Italy said, despite rising about 4 percentage points compared with a trough in the first half of 2012 in the midst of the sovereign debt crisis.

Italian banks, which picked up the slack from foreign investors during the financial crisis by massively increasing their holdings, cut their stock of domestic bonds by 0.6 percentage points in the nine months through September.

Italian banks’ holdings of domestic debt are 3.7 percentage points below a peak reached in mid-2013, the central bank said.

Italian households have been cutting their holdings of domestic government bonds since 2009. (Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari and Valentina Za)