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UPDATE 1-Bank of Italy says capital revaluation can help banks only from 2015
February 3, 2014 / 7:34 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Bank of Italy says capital revaluation can help banks only from 2015

(Adds details on revaluation, background)

ROME, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The revaluation of the Bank of Italy’s share capital, approved by the country’s parliament last week, will be able to boost the core capital of Italian banks only from 2015 and will not have a major effect, the central bank’s governor said.

“There is a benefit for the banks, but it’s not a big boost,” the governor, Ignazio Visco, told reporters on Monday.

The parliament on Wednesday last week gave final approval to a decree increasing the value of the Bank of Italy’s share capital, using its reserves, to 7.5 billion euros ($10 billion) from 156,000 euros - a level that had not been changed since the 1930s.

The decree also set a 3 percent ceiling on the stake that the central bank’s shareholders - mostly Italian banks - can own. They must sell the rest and the decree allowed the Bank of Italy, if necessary, to buy back from the banks the stakes exceeding that ceiling.

Analysts say the only two banks whose capital could be significantly boosted by the revaluation are Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit, the two biggest shareholders in the central bank, with stakes of 42 percent and 22 percent respectively.

However, Visco added that the increase in core capital - the highest quality capital - for the banks owning a stake in the central bank would not be automatic even in 2015.

It would be up to the Bank of Italy to allow lenders to include their revalued stakes in their core capital, he said, without elaborating.

The Bank of Italy would only be available to buy back banks’ stakes exceeding the three percent limit after a three year transitional period from now, Visco said.

The legislation approved last week had been opposed in parliament by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which tried to block it with filibustering tactics, objecting to what it viewed as the “privatisation” of the central bank and an unjustified “gift” to banks.

Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit could cash in up to 3.5 billion euros combined from the sale of their revalued stakes exceeding the three percent limit, according to analyst calculations. ($1 = 0.7397 euros) (Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni, writing by Gavin Jones; editing by Francesca Landini and Anthony Barker)

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