Italian Unicredit to finally sell off Bank of Valletta shareholding

Unicredit’s 10% shareholding is second largest stake in Bank of Valletta and has been present in bank’s history since 1974

Unicredit holds 52,500,439 shares in the bank, being 10.001% of the issued shareholding of Bank of Valletta
Unicredit holds 52,500,439 shares in the bank, being 10.001% of the issued shareholding of Bank of Valletta

Bank of Valletta has announced that its second largest shareholder, the Italian bank Unicredit, will be disposing of its total shareholding.

An investor has already been identified, and the transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

Unicredit holds 52,500,439 shares in the bank, being 10.001% of the issued shareholding of the bank.

Unicredit did not participate in Bank of Valletta’s rights issue issued in 2017, sending strong signal that the bank was not interested in extending its relationship. When BOV became the first public company to be listed on the Malta Stock Exchange, 14.56% was held by Banco di Sicilia, which stake was later taken over by Capitalia in 2006, and a year later, following a merger, in the hands of Unicredit. That stake went down to 10% with BOV’s recent rights issue.

In recent years various foreign banks in Malta have disposed of their holdings, amongst them Volksbank, Banif – now renamed BNF – and more recently Lombard Bank’s Cypriot shareholding, which the National Development and Social Fund has offered to acquire.

The Unicredit shares derived from the 40 per cent of the nationalise Bank of Valletta in 1974 when the state investment arm Malta Development Corporation sold shares to Banca di Sicilia and the remainder to the Maltese public.

Unicredit has been a bit player in BOV’s overall strategy, and under Chief Executive Officer Jean Pierre Mustier, it focused entirely on cleaning up the lender’s balance sheet: selling €17.7 billion euros in non-performing loans to investors while Italy grappled with the pressure of more than 300 billion euros in non-performing. The crisis forced the Italian government to rescue some banks with the biggest bailouts in decades.

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