Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018
MILAN

MPS stock rises 7.7% on better-than-expected results

English
© ANSA

Milan, May 15 - The financially creaking,
scandal-mired Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) saw
its stock rise 7.7% to 0.22 euros on Wednesday after issuing
better-than-expected first-quarter results.
The world's oldest bank - and Italy's third-largest lender
- said it was just 100 million euros in the red, whereas
analysts expected losses of 154 million euros.
It also said it had staunched a decline in revenues despite
scandal and controversy that have swirled around Italy's
third-largest lender since January.
MPS CEO Fabrizio Viola told analysts in a conference call
the bank will work "belly to the ground up to the last day of
the year to try to pay off the interest on the Monti bonds" to
ward off the threat of state control.
MPS said in late April it might not be able to repay the
controversial government bailout, commonly called "Monti bonds"
after ex-premier Mario Monti whose technical government
shepherded the deal through.
The president of the Tuscan bank, Alessandro Profumo in
April said it was "not certain" that MPS be able to refund the
four-billion-euro package, which allows the state to take bank
equity if it defaults.
Repaying the government bailout is "the main challenge"
facing the bank, Profumo said.
However Profumo, who previously served as chief executive
of Italy's biggest commercial 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," Profumo
said.
Profumo also signaled that restructuring had improved
competitiveness, though the bank still needed to work on
profitability.
MPS in recent months revealed losses of more than three
billion euros last year, and 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.
In late April, 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 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
Baldassarri.
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
in March by throwing himself out of a window at the bank's
headquarters in Tuscany. He was not being probed.

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