February 8, 2019 / 6:24 AM / 13 days ago

Italy's BPER buys top investor Unipol's banking unit for 220 million euros

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s BPER Banca has agreed to buy the banking unit of its top shareholder Unipol for 220 million euros ($249 million) in cash, the two groups said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Unipol bank is seen in Rome, Italy May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo

BPER, Italy’s sixth-largest bank, said the deal with Unipol would boost its assets by around 17 percent and add more than 500,000 units to its client base.

The sale allows Unipol, which controls Italy’s second-biggest insurer UnipolSai, to pull out of direct management of a small bank “to take on the role of long-term stable investor” in one of the country’s main banking groups.

Unipol holds a 15 percent stake in 258-branches strong BPER Banca. The two groups, both headquartered in the northern Emilia Romagna region, also have an insurance joint-venture in place.

Unipol had cleaned up its banking unit by spinning off its bad loans to prepare it for the sale.

As part of the deal with BPER, Unipol also agreed to pay 130 million euros to buy a portfolio of BPER Banca’s impaired loans with a gross book value of 1.3 billion euros.

Also on Friday, BPER said it would buy full control of its Banco di Sardegna (BdS) unit in a deal involving a share swap and the sale of a hybrid bond valued at 180 million euros.

Purchasing Banco di Sardegna’s minorities will boost BPER’s fully-phased core capital by 50 basis points.

BPER Banca said the various transactions announced of Friday would increase the bank’s 2021 earnings per share by an overall 33 percent.

Barclays advised BPER and IMI BdS’ shareholder Fondazione di Sardegna.

Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; editing by David Evans

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