January 21, 2011 / 1:16 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Unicredit CEO says no frontrunner for Pioneer

* Nearing choice for new investment banking head

* Shares up 2.7 percent

(Releads with detail on Pioneer deal, adds quotes, background)

#ROME, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Unicredit (CRDI.MI), Italy’s largest bank, has no favoured candidate in the ongoing sale of fund management arm Pioneer.

“It is going along the lines you would expect,” chief executive Federico Ghizzoni told reporters on the margins of a conference on Friday.

“We have received more than one offer. It is not possible to say which one is best. There are no favoured candidates because they are all being looked at.”

He also said Unicredit was in the final stages of its search for a successor to Sergio Ermotti, the former head of its investment banking arm who left last year after being passed over for the job of group chief executive.

External candidates were being considered, Ghizzoni said.

A decision on the appointment was expected by mid-February but could come sooner, according to sources close to the issue.

Ghizzoni dismissed speculation about the future of chairman Dieter Rampl, saying there was no reason for him to step down before the board’s mandate runs out next year.

“There are absolutely no grounds, no hint that Rampl might want to leave. For me, it is a non-issue,” Ghizzoni said.

Unicredit shares were up 2.7 percent at 1310 GMT. (Reporting by Stefano Bernabei; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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