July 13, 2018 / 4:43 PM / 4 months ago

Carige investor Mincione wants to raise stake above 9.99 percent

LONDON (Reuters) - Banca Carige (CRGI.MI) investor Raffaele Mincione wants to raise his stake in the Italian lender to above 9.99 percent, a source close to the matter said, in a move that could further complicate its turnaround efforts.

Earlier this week Mincione had asked for a shareholder vote on removing the bank’s board and appointing a new one after Carige’s chairman and two board members had quit due to a row over the running of the Genoa-based bank.

The source did not say exactly how much of the bank Mincione was seeking to acquire, but dismissed a report in daily Il Messaggero that the businessman had asked the ECB for authorization to increase his stake to 19.9 percent.

The ECB declined to comment.

Mincione, who emerged this year as one of Carige’s top shareholders with a 5.4 percent stake but failed to obtain a board seat, had previously said he was willing to raise that holding to 9.9 percent.

“His intention is to team up with whomever wants to help turn around the bank, also through a merger,” the source added.

The potential stakebuilding also comes after top shareholder Vittorio Malacalza, a businessman who owns over 20 percent, said he too planned to resign from the board.

Carige has long been dogged by governance issues and investment bankers say concerns about potential shareholder conflicts complicate its search for a merger partner.

The lender struggled to pull through a cash call demanded by regulators at the end of last year, and is working to reduce a large soured-loan burden under Chief Executive Paolo Fiorentino, a former veteran UniCredit (CRDI.MI) manager.

Fiorentino was appointed CEO a year ago after Malacalza fell out with the previous chief executive. Malacalza, however, criticized the handling of the recapitalization under Fiorentino.

Reporting by Sivia Aloisi, writing by Agnieszka Flak; editing by Paola Arosio and Steve Scherer; editing by David Evans

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