UBI's main shareholder group CAR accepts improved Intesa offer

Credit: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Add CAR statement, background

MILAN, July 28 (Reuters) - UBI Banca's UBI.MI main shareholder group CAR said on Tuesday it will take up Intesa Sanpaolo's improved bid, bringing Italy's biggest retail bank closer to its goal of creating the euro zone's seventh-largest banking group.

Intesa's bid was due to end on Tuesday but market regulator Consob said it had extended it to Thursday to protect shareholders after asking UBI for clarifications on communications issued in relation to the bid, which UBI provided on Monday.

The offer is valid with a take-up of 50% of UBI's capital plus one share.

But Intesa ISP.MI, which has so far secured 43.5% of UBI, is targeting 66.67% acceptance to ensure it controls extraordinary shareholder resolutions, so as to be able to absorb UBI and maximise projected savings.

The CAR group, which holds some 19% of UBI, had initially rejected Intesa's offer saying it was "hostile, unsolicited and not consistent with UBI Banca's underlying values".

However some of its main members, such as insurer Cattolica CASS.MI, banking foundations Fondazione CRC and Fondazione Banca del Monte di Lombardia, holding in aggregate 10.9% of UBI, had already announced they would accept Intesa's bid.

CAR said in a statement its decision had been taken after "the partial recognition of the economic value of UBI Banca", but also after receiving extensive guarantees on the future of UBI's employees and investments in areas in which UBI operates.

Intesa and UBI have been facing off since mid-February over a 4.1 billion euro ($4.8 billion) unsolicited offer.

On July 17 Intesa Sanpaolo added a cash sweetener to its bid on UBI to secure investor backing for its plan to see through one of Europe's biggest banking mergers in a decade.

A source in the bid camp said on Monday the take-up so far comprised mostly local investors, many of whom had initially opposed the offer. Take-up by institutional investors is expected to lift acceptance to at least 70%, sources in the bid camp have said.

($1 = 0.8538 euros)

(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro; editing by Valentina Za and David Evans)

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