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Battle of the banks goes on in Italy


Battle of the banks goes on in Italy


The Dutch lender ABN Amro says it will offer 6.3 billion euros for Italy’s Banca Antonveneta.

It is the second challenge this week to Italy’s limits on foreign ownership of banks. ABN, which already owns 12.7 of Antonveneta, plans to raise up to three billion euros by selling new shares to fund the offer. Along with other European banks, ABN is keen to expand into Italy as it is one of the world’s largest savings markets. Households in Italy save 11.3% of their disposable income. That is higher than the European Union average of 10.5% of disposable income. The rate in Japan is 5.1% and for US households it is just 0.8% according to figures compiled by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Like other foreign banks in Italy, ABN Amro has been hindered in its attempts to boost its holdings by the governor of the Italian central bank, Antonio Fazio, who has authority to veto bank takeovers in the country. Fazio is said to favour consolidation of the fragmented banking sector but he would prefer that to be driven by Italian institutions. The other bank hoping to move into Italy is Spain’s BBVA which is trying to buy BNL. It is sweet talking Fazio. It has just said its attitude to him “is one of absolute respect” and that the Bank of Italy’s reaction to their takeover plans has been “professional.”
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