Pop. Vicenza Executives Probed as Bank Prepares Stock Sale

  • Some managers accused of crimes including market manipulation
  • Bank says it's “fully cooperating” with investigation

Italian financial police searched the offices of Banca Popolare di Vicenza, as prosecutors announced an investigation of unidentified executives on suspicion of manipulating markets and obstructing regulatory activities. 

Police searched offices including the bank’s headquarters in the city of Vicenza, the prosecutor’s office in the northern city said in a statement Tuesday. The allegations stem from activities that occurred before December, according to the statement, which didn’t elaborate.

Popolare Vicenza said in a statement that it’s “fully cooperating” with the “preliminary investigation.” A meeting of the executive committee scheduled this afternoon will take place as planned, the bank said.

The probe comes as the bank prepares to sell stock to the public for the first time. The lender is seeking to replenish capital as it prepares to convert from a cooperative lender to a joint stock company.

The bank late Monday said UniCredit SpA, the country’s biggest lender, would guarantee a share sale of as much as 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) to be completed by April, as well as lead the underwriting group for the initial public offering.

Popolare Vicenza reported 1.05 billion-euro losses in the first half, as it set aside 703 million euros for bad loans and wrote down value of past acquisitions for 269 million euros. It is working on a new business plan to be presented by the end of the month.

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