UniCredit sells Mediobanca stake

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In a move that could shake up Italy’s financial landscape, UniCredit has sold its entire 8.4% stake in investment bank Mediobanca.

UniCredit, which was Mediobanca’s largest shareholder prior to the sale, placed around 74.5 million shares at €10.53 per share, a discount of around 2.3% on the pre-announcement closing price, raising some €785m (US$868.92m). Settlement will take place on 11 November.

Though Mediobanca has in recent years exited many of its investments in other companies, it remains the biggest shareholder in insurer Generali. The sale comes as Mediobanca’s strategy of diversifying away from investment banking and into consumer credit and wealth management has faced attack from Leonardo Del Vecchio, who unexpectedly bought a 7.5% stake in Mediobanca between September and October.

UniCredit’s exit leaves Del Vecchio, founder of the Luxottica eyewear group, as Mediobanca’s largest shareholder and there has been recurring speculation in local media that he plans to increase his holding.

However, UniCredit says in its statement it had requested the placement be made to a diversified pool of investors, indicating it was not selling the stake to Del Vecchio.

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