Italian Central Bank Rejects Unipol’s Bid for BNL

January 12, 2006

The Italian Central Bank, which regulates the country’s financial institutions, has rejected the bid by domestic insurer Compagnia Assicuratrice Unipol SpA’s (Unipol) €5 billion ($6 billion) takeover bid for Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL).

The Bank gave no reason for its decision, but some commentators have linked the refusal to approve the deal to the departure of Antonio Fazio, former head of the Bank, who resigned in December, following allegations that he had improperly interfered in another takeover deal.

In an announcement on Tuesday rating agency Standard & Poor’s expressed reservations about the Unipol-BNL deal, and had put the bank’s ratings on CreditWatch (See IJ Website Jan. 10).

The rejection seemed to meet with S&P’s approval, as it announced that it has removed BNL from CreditWatch and has raised its long-term counterparty credit rating BNL to “A-” from “BBB+.” It also affirmed BNL’s “A-2” short-term counterparty credit rating and assigned a “stable” outlook.

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