Monte Paschi Said to Seek Buyers for $223 Million of Bad Loans

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA is seeking offers to buy about 200 million euros ($223 million) of secured non-performing loans as the bank tries to shore up capital, said people familiar with the matter.

The Siena, Italy-based bank is selling a portfolio of about 40 soured loans that have real estate as collateral, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan is private. The group of loans has attracted interest from about 20 potential foreign bidders, said one of the people.

The world’s oldest bank is disposing of non-performing loans as part of its strategy to improve the quality of its assets. Chief Executive Officer Fabrizio Viola is also seeking to speed up the recovery of bad loans through a partnership with a specialized operator, he said in February. Monte Paschi is carrying about 24 billion euros of impaired loans, representing 22 percent of total loans to customers.

Monte Paschi plans to select bidders and give access to loan data by May and close the transaction by the end of June, one of the people said. A spokesman for the bank declined to comment.

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