ROME/MILAN (Reuters) - A specialist fund run by BlackRock could be given extra time to bid for troubled Italian lender Carige, three sources familiar with the matter said.
Carige was placed under special administration at the start of the year after its top investor blocked a planned capital raising, derailing an industry-financed rescue plan.
The BlackRock fund has remained as the only buyer still known to be considering a bid as U.S. fund Varde Partners this week decided to walk away after due diligence showed Carige was not a good investment opportunity for the Minnesota-based fund.
The European Central Bank last week extended to the end of September a mandate to three commissioners who have been put in charge of the Italian bank and asked to find a buyer.
One of the commissioners said last month offers for Carige were expected by mid-April, but this deadline could now be extended to the end of the month, one source said.
A second source, however, said there may be more clarity on a possible offer by the BlackRock fund by the end of the week.
The fund has not taken a final decision yet on whether to submit a bid and the tight deadline is complicating matters, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
Separately, two sources said BlackRock was in talks with Carige’s single biggest shareholder, the Malacalza family, who own 27.5 percent of the bank, over a possible co-investment.
The Genoa-based bank needs to raise 630 million euros in capital after reporting a 2018 loss of 273 million euros.
Any bidder would need to get the Malacalzas on board to succeed or would risk being voted down at a shareholder meeting called to approve the capital raising and any deal.
Reporting by Stefano Bernabei, Gianluca Semeraro, Valentina Za and Andrea Mandala; editing by Alexander Smith