Top Italian bank re-establishes contact with Libya

AFP , Thursday 3 Mar 2011

UniCredit back in touch with Libyan deputy chairman, says statement

Italy's top bank Unicredit, in which Libya holds a 7.5-per cent stake, said Thursday it had re-established contact with Libyan central bank governor Farhat Bengdara, the lender's deputy chairman.

"UniCredit informs that contacts with Vice Chairman of Board of Directors, Farhat Bengdara, have been restored," the bank said in a statement.

The Libyan state is UniCredit's top shareholder with a total stake of 7.582 per cent -- 4.988 per cent held by the Libyan central bank and 2.594 per cent by the Libyan Investment Authority, Libya's sovereign wealth fund.

The value of Libya's stake has been estimated by Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore at around 3.6bn euros ($5bn).
Libya's growing influence in UniCredit sparked a fierce controversy last year that led to the ouster of chief executive Alessandro Profumo.

UniCredit's new CEO, Federico Ghizzoni, last week assured shareholders that the unrest in Libya would have no impact on the group.

Libya also holds a 2.01-per cent stake in Italian aerospace and defence giant Finmeccanica, 7.5 per cent in first-division football club Juventus and, informed sources say, 0.5-percent in oil and gas major ENI.

The European Union is looking into a possible freeze on Libyan-held assets following sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council and Europe against the property of Gaddafi and his associates.

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