EXCLUSIVE-Italy to rule on Prelios deal after ION discloses loan terms, sources say


By Giuseppe Fonte and Valentina Za

ROME, March 11 (Reuters) - Italy is inching closer to clearing ION's acquisition of credit manager Prelios after the fintech group disclosed the details Rome had been requesting about the deal's financing, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The disclosure request had led to a stalemate over the 1.3 billion euro ($1.4 billion) deal struck in August 2023, which needs clearance under 'golden powers' Italy has to shield assets of strategic national relevance from unwanted foreign interest.

The government department in charge of such powers has found a compromise solution with ION to resolve the impasse, one of the three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Representatives for both ION and the office of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni declined to comment.

After the government gave the Prelios acquisition a first green light in January, the transaction got stuck over Italy's request for ION to inform it when Prelios shares legally became collateral for the financing banks are providing for the deal.

That normally happens at closing in such transactions.

The government's request stemmed from its need to have clarity on who would become a shareholder in Prelios if the loan guarantees were ever tapped.

Of the price tag ION has agreed with Prelios' owner, U.S. investment fund Davidson Kempner, some 630 million euros are being financed at closing through a bank loan.

The pool of banks includes lenders such as UniCredit CRDI.MI and BNP Paribas BNPP.PA.

Giving notice to the government about the shares being legally set up as collateral for the loan triggered a new authorisation procedure, introducing an element of uncertainty that prevented banks from providing the acquisition financing.

The sources said the parties had found a way to overcome the Catch-22 situation, and that the cabinet could discuss the acquisition as early as Monday, with two of the sources adding it was expected to confirm its preliminary green light to the deal.

($1 = 0.9141 euros)

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte in Rome and Valentina Za in Milan; Editing by Jan Harvey)

((valentina.za@thomsonreuters.com; +39 02 6612 9526;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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