February 22, 2011 / 8:55 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-UniCredit in contact to clarify Libyan stakes

* Bank unable to contact vice chairman Bengdara

* Will decide on Libyan voting rights after evaluation

MILAN, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Italy’s top bank, UniCredit SpA(CRDI.MI), is attempting to clarify the nature of Libyan stakes in the bank, its chairman said on Tuesday.

UniCredit shares fell 1.82 percent on Tuesday after dropping nearly 6 percent on Monday, as investors worried that Libyan investors might offload holdings in the bank given the current turmoil in the country.

“With regard to the stakes of Libyan shareholders in UniCredit ... encouraging contacts have developed over recent months with a view to clarifying the situation that has arisen,” Chairman Dieter Rampl said in a statement after a board meeting.

The Central Bank of Libya is UniCredit’s No.3 shareholder with a stake of nearly 5 percent. The Libyan Investment Authority holds another 2.6 percent.

There are also concerns the Libyan holdings are not independent. A bank statute bars single investors from having more than 5 percent of voting rights.

“The decision concerning the exercise of voting rights by Libyan shareholders will be taken, when due, upon the most careful analysis of the facts by the Bank,” Rampl said.

The bank has said it is not concerned about the impact on the group of the current turmoil in Libya.

However, Rampl said there were concerns because the bank was not able to contact UniCredit Vice Chairman Farhat Bengdara, who is also the governor of the Central Bank of Libya. (Reporting by Antonella Ciancio; editing by Andre Grenon)

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