Unipol president Consorte to resign in growing bank takeover scandal | VailDaily.com

Unipol president Consorte to resign in growing bank takeover scandal

ROME – The president of Italian insurer Unipol Assicurazione SpA and his deputy are to resign, the company said Wednesday, amid a growing bank takeover scandal that has seen several bankers jailed and forced the Bank of Italy governor to resign.A statement from Unipol holding company Holmo said Giovanni Consorte and Unipol’s vice president, Ivano Sacchetti, had decided to step down at the company’s next board meeting Jan. 9.Consorte is under investigation in Milan for market rigging related to Banca Popolare Italiana Scarl’s failed takeover bid for Banca Antonveneta SpA. He is also being investigated in Rome on the same charge in connection with Unipol’s own bid for Banca Nazionale del Lavoro SpA, news reports said.Prosecutors have said that key players in the bids by BPI and Unipol helped each other secretly build stakes in the banks they were attempting to take over while enjoying the favor and protection of former Bank of Italy governor Antonio Fazio.Fazio, who resigned last week, is under investigation in Rome for abuse of power, and reportedly for insider trading in Milan.Prosecutors are looking into links between Consorte and BPI former chief executive Gianpiero Fiorani, who was arrested two weeks ago in connection with the Antonveneta bid, and financier Emilio Gnutti, one of BPI’s allies in the Antonveneta bid.In the statement, Holmo said it appreciated the decision by Consorte and Sacchetti to resign and said it hoped the gesture would remove any obstacles to Unipol’s bid for BNL.On Tuesday, Unipol raised its bid for BNL when market watchdog Consob ordered it to do so after finding that Unipol had increased its stake in the bank through an undisclosed agreement with Deutsche Bank AG of Germany.Since Deutsche Bank bought part of its BNL stake for 2.75 euros ($3.28) a share, Consob ruled that Unipol has to raise its entire BNL offer to that price.The new Unipol bid of 2.75 euros a share values the offer at around 5 billion euros ($6 billion). Its earlier 2.70 euro ($3.22) a share bid had valued the offer at 4.9 billion euros ($5.84 billion).Unipol has said it doesn’t agree with Consob’s ruling, but raised the bid because it has been waiting nearly half a year for takeover approval from the Bank of Italy and other Italian regulators.In the statement, the company reaffirmed its intent to pursue the BNL takeover, saying it would carry great “social significance.”

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