Italian financial group Unipol upped its stake in Popolare di Sondrio to 7%. This move could possibly ease a tie-up between Popolare di Sondrio and BPER Banca, a bigger competitor.
Unipol is currently BPER Banca’s top investor with an equity stake of close to 20% and is so far the key driving force behind BPER’s pursuit of a merger.
Unipol Chief Carlo Cimbri said during a broadcast in March that Popolare di Sondrio was “the most natural” tie-up option for BPER, which is currently ranked as the fifth-largest bank in Italy. Both banks have stakes in Arca SGR, an asset management firm.
Popolare di Sondrio is also party to an insurance deal with Italy’s second largest insurer UnipolSAI, wholly-owned Unipol.
Italy’s banking sector is headed for a new wave of mergers in 2021, and sweeteners such as tax incentives are some of the reasons why execs like Cimbri have their eyes out for ways to widen their distribution network, especially for UnipolSAI’s products.
“The transaction is part of UnipolSai’s strategy aimed at contributing to the development plans of the bank, industrial partner of the Unipol Group since 2010 in the non-life and life bancassurance sector,” Unipol said in a publication.
“The transaction is part of UnipolSai’s strategy aimed at contributing to the development plans of the bank, industrial partner of the Unipol Group since 2010 in the non-life and life bancassurance sector,”
Reuters reports that BPER had initially entered merger negotiations with Banco BPM before talks broke down and the deal fell through.
Unipol previously owned 2.9 percent of Popolare di Sondrio but added to that on Wednesday, when it paid 4.15 euros per unit for a 4% stake, paying a 3.5% premium on Tuesday’s closing price.
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