Intesa Share Swings Probed by Consob After Fake Statement

Italy’s market regulator Consob is investigating Intesa Sanpaolo SpA’s share movement after a hoax statement wiped about 1.8 billion euros ($2 billion) in value.

Italy’s second-largest bank, which was up 1.8 percent, began dropping at around 3:57 p.m. in Milan and fell to an intraday low of 2.99 euros by 4:05 p.m., after a fake release stated that Chief Executive Officer Carlo Messina was stepping down. Within minutes the shares rose to about 3.06 euros as a company spokesman said the statement was false.

Consob immediately started an investigation into alleged market abuse, a spokesman for the watchdog said by phone.

The false communication, sent by e-mail, linked to a site registered on April 2 through a hosting company in South Africa. The mobile phone number listed for the individual named as the registrant for the domain doesn’t exist.

Intesa’s IT unit is collecting evidence that may help “to identify the persons who have conceived and carried out this serious act,” the lender said in a statement. “The bank is assessing with its lawyers all the judicial actions to its safeguard.”

Italy’s third-largest bank, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, was also the target of a suspicious statement in November that purported to report an offer to invest in the company. Consob said at the time it was investigating for alleged market manipulation.

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