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Report: Italy seeks 6-month extension for state guarantee on bad loans

Italy is asking the European Commission for a six-month extension for its state-guarantee program for banks' nonperforming loans, Bloomberg News reported May 10, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.

The Italian Treasury has already started the process of getting approval from the EC to extend the program known as GACS, which expires in September, under similar conditions, the source said. Under the scheme, banks can sell their bad loans through securitization, while purchasing a state guarantee for the least risky tranche to make the loans more attractive, the report noted.

The plan is good news for the country's banking system as it will hike the number of deals and spread them out to 2019, Prelios SpA General Manager Riccardo Serrini said. Marzotto SIM SpA CEO Jacopo Ceccatelli also said the possible extension should be viewed as "moderately positive" since it will give banks more time to improve their balance sheets through GACS.

Serrini noted that GACS should also extend to unlikely-to-pay loans and leasing contracts to be "more effective."

Italian lenders are sitting on about €270 billion of bad debt, prompting the European Central Bank to force them to reduce it, the newswire noted. A spokesman for the Italian Treasury declined to comment, it added.