Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA is looking at a "narrow" number of possible merger partners, Reuters reported, CEO Marco Morelli's quotes in Il Resto del Carlino.
Giovanni Tria, the country's finance and economy minister, had previously said the state is working on plans to return the bank to private hands. Morelli said the bank could also be privatized if the Italian government gradually reduces its 68% stake in the bank, Reuters reported May 27.
The government stepped in to rescue Monte dei Paschi in 2017 primarily due to low capital levels and a large stock of bad loans. Italy has a 2019-end deadline to submit a plan to the EU on exiting the bank.
In January, the ECB warned the bank of its fragile condition, sparking rumors of a possible combination with local peers Banca Carige SpA and Unione di Banche Italiane SpA. However, the three-way merger was deemed risky by analysts.