FLORENCE, Italy, Oct 14 (Brussels) - EU regulators are
keeping a close eye on subsidies granted by national governments
to troubled banks to make sure that this does not give them an
unfair advantage, Europe's competition chief said on Friday.
The comments by European Competition Commissioner Margrethe
Vestager at a conference in Florence came as ailing Italian bank
Monte dei Paschi seeks to resolve its mass of bad
loans without direct state support.
Italy is also struggling to sell Banca Marche, Banca
Etruria, CariChieti and CariFerrara to salvage at least part of
the 3.75 billion euros ($4.20 billion) that other Italian
lenders stumped up in their rescue.
Sources familiar with the matter said interested parties
have offered low bids because of worries that the banks would
need to write down further their problem loans.
"We need to look carefully at aid for banks," Vestager told
a conference organised by the International Bar Association. She
did not name any banks.
"And our rules on state aid have the same goal: they make
sure public support doesn't take the place of private investment
and that it does not give unfair benefits to some," Vestager
Governments across the 28-country bloc have pumped billions
of euros into their banks in the last eight years due to the
financial crisis. The lenders have had to sell off non core
activities, halt dividend payments and are banned from making
acquisitions in return for EU approval for their bailout.
($1 = 0.8928 euros)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)