Lunedì, 22 Ottobre 2018

MPS says may not repay bailout


(By Denis Greenan).
Milan, April 29 - Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS),
the world's oldest lender, added a new twist to its saga of woes
Monday when it said it might not be able to repay a
controversial government bailout.
The president of the scandal-hit Tuscan bank, Alessandro
Profumo said it was "not certain" that the troubled bank would
be able to refund the four-billion-euro package.
"I believe we can do it, but nothing can be taken for
granted," Profumo said.
Repaying the government bailout is "the main challenge"
facing the bank, he said.
But if it succeeds, Profumo added, it will be "the only way
to maintain (its) independence and headquarters in Siena".
However, Profumo, who previously served as chief executive
of Italy's biggest bank UniCredit, said the lender was on the
right track.
"The bank has totally turned a corner with respect to the
past in terms of transparency and capital solidity."
MPS was in a good position, Profumo said, for its recent
restructuring program put it on a good footing to compete with
other lenders.
"We know that all other banks will have to go down the
cost-containment road and on this aspect we will have a
competitive advantage," the executive said.
That said, Profumo signaled that "there is much more to be
done in terms of profitability, even though we're starting to
see signals of an inversion".
Italy's third-largest lender, which recently revealed
losses of more than three billion euros last year, is at the
centre of a huge fraud probe after a scandal over shady
derivatives operations exploded in January.
It has since emerged that a previously undisclosed series
of derivative and structured-finance deals produced losses of
around 720 million euros.
Senior officials from MPS are facing penalties totalling as
much as five million euros from the Bank of Italy for alleged
fraud and corruption.
On Saturday an Italian judge rejected a prosecutors' order
for 1.8 billion euros of assets held by Japanese investment bank
Nomura to be seized as part of the probe into the scandal.
Prosecutors ordered the seizure earlier this month and said
they had put Nomura's former chief executive in Europe,
the Middle East and Africa under investigation.
Nomura was involved in one of a series of suspect
derivative and structured-finance deals involving MPS.
Prosecutors said Sadeq Sayeed, the former head of Nomura
International plc, was being probed along with another manager
from the Japanese investment bank, Raffaele Ricci.
The prosecutors said the Nomura seizure regarded 88 million
euros of hidden commissions received by Nomura and 1.7 billion
euros of funds deposited with Nomura by MPS by way of collateral
for a loan.
But on Saturday a judge said there was no urgent need to
seize the assets.
The judge also overruled an order to seize 14 million euros
belonging to former MPS chairman Giuseppe Mussari, former
general manager Antonio Vigni and former finance chief Gianluca
Sayeed, Ricci, Mussari, Vigni and Baldassarri are being
probed for crimes including usury, aggravated fraud, obstructing
banking watchdogs and issuing false statements.
The judge on Saturday expressed doubts about the validity
of the possible charges of usury and fraud.
Mussari last year resigned from MPS and stepped down from
his subsequent post as chairman of the banking association ABI
after the scandal exploded in January.
Baldassarri is under house arrest.
There are also suspicions senior MPS managers were involved
in alleged corruption in the nine-billion-euro acquisition of
rival bank Antonveneta, at least two billion above its market
value, in 2008.
David Rossi, MPS's communications chief, committed suicide
last month by throwing himself out of a window at the bank's
headquarters in Tuscany. He was not being probed.

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