Italy’s Biggest Banks Sell SIA Stake as Part of Capital Raising

Italian banks UniCredit SpA, Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA and Banca Nazionale del Lavoro SpA sold their stakes in payment processing firm SIA in a transaction valuing the company at 765 million euros ($1 billion).

The banks agreed to sell a combined 59 percent stake to Fondo Strategico Italiano, F2i SGR SpA and Orizzonte SGR SpA, they said in separate statements today. The transaction will allow UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank, to book a capital gain of about 140 million euros in the first half, while Intesa, the second-biggest lender, will book 150 million euros.

Italy’s banks, which face an increase in non-performing loans as the country’s recession persists, are strengthening finances and boosting capital as the European Central Bank begins a comprehensive assessment of their assets.

“The disposal marks another step in the direction of Italian banks’ rationalization by selling non-core businesses,” Luigi Tramontana, a Milan-based analyst at Banca Akros SpA, wrote in an e-mailed report today.

Monte Paschi will book a gain of 37 million euros from the sale, it said.

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