Consob Probes Paschi Offer for Potential Manipulation

Italy’s market watchdog Consob said it’s probing allegations of market manipulation relating to a purported offer to invest in Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA.

Consob opened a preliminary investigation after NIT Holdings Ltd. yesterday said it had submitted an offer to invest as much as 10 billion euros ($12.5 billion) in Monte Paschi, a spokesman for the Rome-based regulator said by phone.

A spokesman for Monte Paschi declined to comment today. Yesterday, the bank said it hadn’t been notified of NIT’s proposal. An official for the Bank of Italy didn’t have an immediate comment.

Monte dei Paschi rose as much as 12.2 percent and was up 7.1 percent at 66.05 cents as of 2:11 p.m. giving the Siena, Italy-based bank a market value of 3.4 billion euros. The stock dropped 39 percent last week, after Europe’s bank health check found the lender had a 2.1 billion-euro capital shortfall.

Rodolfo Varano di Camerino, who says he represents NIT in Italy, didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone. Earlier he said NIT has a Dutch unit which has received funding from its members for the Monte Paschi offer.

A person who said he’s an NIT employee, without giving his identity, answered the door at the company’s Hong Kong office address without giving access to the property or commenting on the bid.

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