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Intesa Sanpaolo CEO sees logic in bank-insurance tie-ups

Intesa Sanpaolo SpA CEO Carlo Messina said he sees "room to grow" in combining a bank with an insurer but added that a mooted takeover of Generali would not be discussed at a Jan. 27 board meeting, Reuters reported Jan. 26.

"Provided any transaction does not weaken our capital strength and our ability to reward shareholders, we feel free to look at possible growth options," Messina reportedly said, two days after Intesa Sanpaolo confirmed it was examining a possible deal with Generali. A "source familiar with the matter" told Reuters that Intesa could make an all-share bid for Generali.

The Italian bank was analyzing various alternatives, Messina added, saying "it'll depend on the price. We'll take our time to make our assessment; we're in a position of strength."

More than 100 Italian senators asked the Italian government what it was doing to protect Generali from a foreign takeover — by Allianz Group or AXA — Reuters added. A source at the Italian treasury said the same day, however, that the government would not take a stance over the deal, as it holds no shares in either company.