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Paschi Jumps Most on Record Amid Stake Sale Speculation

March 5 (Bloomberg) --Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, the bailed-out Italian bank, climbed the most on record in Milan, leading gains among European shares, amid speculation that its owner may have sold a stake to a foreign fund.

Monte Paschi, Italy’s third-largest bank, surged as much as 21 percent. It rose 19 percent to 22 cents at the close of trading at 5:30 p.m., giving it a market value of 2.57 billion euros ($3.5 billion).

“The shares were boosted by speculation that a foreign sovereign fund bought the foundation’s shares in the bank,” Luca Rubini, managing director at Fidentiis Equities in Milan, said by telephone. “Growing activity in Monte Paschi derivatives this morning triggered strong movements in the underlying stock and an end to short covering.”

The foundation didn’t discuss the sale of its stake at a meeting today in Siena, Italy, two people familiar with the matter said. The foundation’s board approved taking legal action against former managers involved in the bank’s capital increases in 2008 and 2011, according to a statement from the non-profit entity that owns about 31 percent of the bank.

Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena is seeking to cut its holding by May to raise funds and avoid insolvency, Chairman Antonella Mansi said in an interview last month. The foundation favors strategic buyers for the stake and said it was in advanced talks mainly with foreign investors.

An official at Fondazione Monte Paschi declined to comment on the speculation by telephone today.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sonia Sirletti in Milan at ssirletti@bloomberg.net; Francesca Cinelli in Milan at fcinelli@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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