ROME (Reuters) – Italy plans to sell its holding in Monte dei Paschi di Siena <BMPS.MI>, the country’s economy minister said on Wednesday, in remarks that appear to show a split within the country’s ruling coalition.
Italy owns 68 percent of Monte Paschi after it bailed the bank out in 2016 under a 5-year rescue plan agreed with the European Commission which included a commitment to sell the government’s “entire stake” in the bank by a date that is confidential.
“The return to the market is a goal agreed with the European Commission and is not in question,” Giovanni Tria said in an interview with Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, in his first comment on the future of the bank since the new government took office in June.
His comments appeared to be at odds with statements made previously by senior members of the ruling coalition which is composed of the 5-Star Movement and far-right League.
The League’s economic spokesman Claudio Borghi had said the bank would remain in public hands and would be used to provide funding to local communities.
In its government “contract” the ruling coalition has also pledged to review “the mission” of Monte Paschi.
Tria, an academic, is seen as more moderate than many of his government’s partners.
Contacted by Reuters, Borghi said he stuck to his position that the state should remain a stakeholder in the bank.
“What to do with Monte Paschi is spelled out in the government contract,” he said.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio. Editing by Jane Merriman)