The Bank of Italy’s council is meeting today to approve the sale of its 4.46 percent stake in Assicurazioni Generali SpA to Fondo Strategico Italiano SpA, the country’s 4 billion-euro ($5.3 billion) investment fund, a central bank spokeswoman said.
The Bank of Italy decided to sell the stake in Trieste-based Generali, the nation’s biggest insurer, to avoid a possible conflict of interest when central bank Governor Ignazio Visco also becomes head of the country’s new insurance authority, Ivass, at the beginning of 2013.
“This news was expected by investors and confirms that the stake will remain in stable hands in the next few years,” Intermonte SIM SpA analysts Alberto Villa and Michele Ballatore wrote in a note to clients today.
FSI, the strategic fund backed by state-controlled lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti SpA, will pay with new shares, giving the central bank a stake of about 20 percent in the fund, according to Italian newspapers including Il Sole 24 Ore. An FSI official declined to comment. Generali’s 4.46 percent holding has a market value of about 930 million euros.
Generali rose 0.7 percent to 13.42 euros by 12:15 p.m. in Milan trading, bringing its gain this year to 15 percent.
The fund will hold Generali’s shares for a temporary period, Il Sole 24 Ore wrote today without citing anyone. The fund won’t seek a seat on Generali’s board and will refrain from interference in the company’s management, the newspaper said.
FSI was set up in June 2011 to make investments in companies and industries considered of strategic interest to the Italian government, such as energy, defense and telecommunications. Cassa Depositi e Prestiti is 70 percent owned by the Treasury and 30 percent by banking foundations.