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Santander Gave 48 Hours for Antonveneta Payment, Botin Testified

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Banco Santander SA Chairman Emilio Botin said he gave Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA Chairman Giuseppe Mussari 48 hours to pay for unit Banca Antonveneta SpA, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News.

Mussari was told that if the deadline for the 9 billion-euro ($12 billion) payment wasn’t met the deal would collapse, Botin said when questioned in July in Madrid by Siena prosecutor Antonino Nastasi, according to the document. Botin was interviewed as a person informed of facts related to Santander’s sale of the unit to Monte Paschi in 2007. He isn’t under investigation in the probe and isn’t accused of any wrongdoing.

Botin said he believed Mussari didn’t obtain any personal advantage from the operation and that they had both defended the interests of their banks. The investigation by prosecutors in Siena is focused on Monte Paschi transactions to obtain financing to buy the Italian lender.

Monte Paschi bought the unit for 9 billion euros from Santander, 36 percent more than the Spanish lender paid for Padua, Italy-based Antonveneta two months earlier. Monte Paschi wrote down the acquisition by 4.5 billion euros in its 2011 financial accounts.

Monte Paschi’s former managers, including Mussari, are being investigated for alleged false bookkeeping, market manipulation and criminal association. Prosecutors are also probing the bank’s use of derivatives to hide losses. A spokesman for Banco Santander declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chiara Vasarri in Rome at cvasarri@bloomberg.net; Sergio Di Pasquale in Milan at sdipasquale1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net

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