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Carige's administrator says share issue might not be needed

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Carige's administrator says share issue might not be needed
FILE PHOTO: he logo of Carige bank is seen in Rome, Italy, April 9 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo   -   Copyright  Alessandro Bianchi(Reuters)
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MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Banca Carige <CRGI.MI> may not need to raise capital from shareholders if it quickly finds a merger partner, one of the troubled lender’s special administrators said on Monday.

The European Central Bank (ECB) last week selected three administrators to take charge of Carige to try to save the bank after its top shareholder blocked a new share issue that was part of an industry-financed rescue.

“A share issue might not be necessary if we quickly find a banking partner or if we manage to revamp the group’s structure in a more efficient way,” Raffaele Lener told la Repubblica’s Monday supplement Affari&Finanza, adding that “all roads remain open, what matters is to be fast”.

The ECB has told Carige to consider a merger with another bank.

Carige’s M&A adviser UBS would need at least six months to look for a partner for a merger, Corriere della Sera daily reported on Sunday.

In a move that would ease a potential sale, the Italian government has had preliminary contacts with Carige over potentially buying the bank’s impaired loans, according to a source familiar with the matter.

“It could be a solution … that has advantages for everyone,” Lener said.

The government would intervene through state-owned vehicle SGA, which is a shareholder in Carige after helping the bank push through its previous capital increase in late 2017.

SGA is currently managing 18 billion euros (£14.1 billion) in gross impaired loans it bought from two regional banks Italy liquidated in 2017.

Lener said the bank’s special administrators needed to meet the heads of the FITD banking fund to review the terms of a hybrid bond that the fund bought from Carige at the end of last year to help it meet its capital requirements.

The Corriere’s report said the meeting could likely take place on Wednesday.

The bond can be converted into equity.

Lener said the bank’s administrators needed to win approval from Italy’s market watchdog Consob for trading in Carige’s shares and bonds, which are currently suspended, to resume. He said that the suspension was an issue for the bank’s image and liquidity.

“There is no reason to exclude that, after initial turbulence, securities will be allowed to trade, or at least bonds,” he said.

(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Jason Neely/Keith Weir)

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