news blog from Britt

UPDATE 1-Italy fund eyes 150 mln euros investment in BPM


* Banker Arpe also eyes management control (Releads, adds details, background)By Andrea MandalaMILAN, Oct 17 (Reuters) - The head of Italian private equity fund Investindustrial said on Monday he is ready to invest up to 150 million euros ($206 million) in Banca Popolare di Milano as the campaign to take charge of the co-operative bank gathers pace.Investindustrial’s Andrea Bonomi is locked in a race with Italian banker Matteo Arpe to get a grip on the bank’s new management board, which will be appointed after a shareholder meeting scheduled for Saturday.BPM is overhauling its governance at the behest of the Bank of Italy to make management more independent from shareholders and attract new investors.The new dual-board system of the bank, which also plans an 800-million euro cash call, envisages a supervisory board representing its owners, and a management board with powers to run the bank’s operations.”We are prepared to take part in the capital increase up to the legal limit, which is 9.9 percent,” Bonomi said at a news conference, presenting his own slate of candidates for the supervisory board.The Investindustrial head and his representatives have the backing of a slate supported by the bank’s controlling union shareholder association, the Friends of Bipiemme, which with less than 4 percent of the bank controls shareholder meetings because of a one-head-one-vote rule.Bonomi, who pointed out investment was conditional on his inclusion in the management board, said there was no pact between his slate and that of the Friends association.He said Investindustrial had the resources to fund further capital increases at the bank if needed.The Bank of Italy, which carried out an audit of BPM in March, criticised it for opaque governance and the disproportionate influence of the Friends association.A rival trade union shareholder group has asked banker Matteo Arpe to join the bank’s management board.Arpe, head of the Sator fund, is known for his turnaround of the Rome bank Capitalia, subsequently taken over by Italy’s largest bank, UniCredit .($1 = 0.727 Euros)

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