March 7, 2020 / 9:30 AM / 3 months ago

Intesa Sanpaolo offers 100 million euros to tackle virus emergency, 5 billion euros in loans: paper

ROME (Reuters) - Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI) is ready to donate up to 100 million euros to Italy to tackle the coronavirus outbreak and grant up to 5 billion euros in loans to companies affected by the epidemic, the lender’s chief executive said on Saturday.

Italy has been the hardest hit country in Europe by the epidemic, with a total number of cases of 4,636 and a death toll of 197 people on Friday. Analysts say the crisis will push Italy’s fragile economy into its fourth recession in 12 years.

“We are ready to donate up to 100 million euros and make them available to the country for specific projects needed to tackle the health emergency. A lot can be done with 100 million euros,” Carlo Messina, CEO of Italy’s top retail bank, told Italian daily Corriere della Sera in an interview.

He said the bank would make 5 billion euros in loans available to companies - with about 1 billion euros to those in the tourism sector - and that the amount could double if Rome were to offer state-backed guarantees for the new credit lines.

Messina also called for regulation that would make it easier for Intesa Sanpaolo and other companies willing to make donations to give money to the state, “particularly because we would like to direct our donations to specific projects”.

Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Alison Williams

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