(Recasts first paragraph, adds CEO comments, shares)
MILAN, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Italian investment house Mediobanca is sticking to its plans to sell down its stake in the country’s biggest insurer, Generali, the subject of fierce takeover speculation.
Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s top retail bank, has said it is examining a possible tie-up with Generali, providing such a move does not jeopardise its capital base and dividends.
“Mediobanca will press ahead with the sale of a 3 percent stake in Generali by 30 June, 2019, keeping 10 percent,” Mediobanca Chief Executive Alberto Nagel said in a conference call.
Nagel said Mediobanca had always supported growth at Generali through acquisitions and would continue to do so if they created value.
But he declined to comment on Intesa Sanpaolo’s ambitions.
“We will sell 3 percent ... The rest is speculation and hypothesis and we do not base our plans and daily operations on this,” he said.
Mediobanca, for years at the crossroads of Italian finance, is Generali’s leading shareholder. In the first half of its 2016-17 financial year, the lender booked a contribution of 134.7 million euros ($144.1 million) from its Generali stake.
Nagel’s comments came in calls on the bank’s second-quarter results that saw net profit for the three months to December almost double to 147.5 million euros, lifted by stronger revenue in consumer banking and wealth management plus cost cuts.
The result was above an analyst consensus provided by the bank of around 119 million euros.
Nagel said he expected the second half of the year to be positive and confirmed Mediobanca’s dividend policy.
At 0850 GMT Mediobanca shares were up 0.6 percent, while Europe’s banking index was down 0.03 percent. ($1 = 0.9348 euros) (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Gianluca Semeraro; Editing by Dale Hudson)