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Italian govt plans to separate commercial lenders from investment banks

FILE PHOTO: Italian Minister of Labor and Industry Luigi Di Maio speaks at the Italian Business Association Confcommercio meeting in Rome, Italy, June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File photo

ROME (Reuters) - The Italian government intends to approve in coming months new banking regulations, including a rule that separates banks’ commercial and investment businesses, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Friday.

Speaking to parliament’s lower house, Di Maio also said that if the government needed to enter the capital of troubled Banca Carige it would take control of the lender.

Since 1993, investment and commercial banks can operate in Italy under one roof.

In June, when the populist coalition made up of the far-right League party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement took power, it agreed in principle that the two divisions of the banking sector were best kept separate to protect savers.

Di Maio, who is also the 5-Star’s leader, said that the government aims to approve the new rules “in the coming months”. The governing coalition will also press for “a reform of the European banking supervision and the creation of a EU-wide fund to guarantee savers”.

Di Maio also mentioned “a fund to guarantee savers to be funded by putting aside up to 60 percent of bank managers’ bonus for five years”.

Last month Italy set up a 1.3 billion euros ($1.49 billion)fund to cover potential costs of emergency measures to shore up Carige after the European Central Bank (ECB) put the bank under temporary administration following a failed attempt to raise new capital from investors.

“So far we do not know whether we will have to use public funds, but if we decide to put people’s money into the bank then (Carige) will be owned by the people,” said Di Maio.

($1 = 0.8724 euros)

Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise