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Intesa confirms it is looking at Generali deal

Intesa Sanpaolo SpA has confirmed that it is examining a possible deal with Italy's biggest insurer Generali.

Turin, Italy-based Intesa Sanpaolo, responding to press reports that a deal may be on the cards, said Jan. 24 that it is interested in growing its business in asset management, private banking and insurance, including through possible international partnerships.

"Opportunities, including possible industrial combinations with Assicurazioni Generali, are currently being examined by the bank's management," it said.

Generali on Jan. 23 purchased a 3.01% stake in Intesa Sanpaolo, in what Reuters wrote was a transaction designed to block Intesa from potentially making a big investment in Generali. The move followed a report in Italy's La Stampa suggesting that Germany's Allianz Group and Intesa were putting together a possible offer for Generali, in which the German insurer would buy some of Generali's assets and Intesa would invest €5 billion to €6 billion to protect Italian interests.

Under Italian cross-shareholding regulations, a company cannot acquire control over more than 3% of the voting rights in another company that has at least a 3% stake in it. Intesa could buy more than 3% of Generali, but its voting rights would be capped at 3% and it would be forced to sell any stake above that level within a year.

The cap limit would not apply if Intesa made a bid for at least 60% of Generali's share capital, Reuters noted.