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Shares in Italian Bank Carige Leap after BPER Banca Offer

MILAN, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Shares in Italian lender Carige rose more than 15% on Wednesday after a surprise takeover approach from rival BPER Banca.

Loss-making Carige has been searching for such a deal since it was bailed out by Italy's depositor protection fund FITD in 2019, presenting BPER with the opportunity of an acquisition that would make it Italy's fourth-biggest lender.

Shares in BPER were up more than 6% after the non-binding bid for regional bank Carige was announced late on Tuesday.

A deal between the two mid-sized lenders could also restart consolidation in Italy's banking sector after a state-sponsored acquisition of Monte dei Paschi di Siena by UniCredit collapsed this year.

BPER is also seen as a good merger candidate for regional bank Popolare di Sondrio.

On Tuesday BPER said it had made a non-binding offer to FITD to buy 88.3% in Carige for 1 euro ($1.13).

FITD, funded by contributions from Italian banks, owns an 80% stake in the regional bank and has been looking for potential suitors. Cassa Centrale Banca holds 8.3%.

Under the proposed deal, BPER also asked FITD to make a capital contribution of 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) to Carige to cover costs stemming from the deal and to reduce the risk coming from Carige's loan portfolio.

"The transaction would allow BPER to purchase Carige at a compelling valuation. However, value creation is not obvious at this point," Jefferies analysts said, adding that more clarity is needed on potential savings and costs from restructuring Carige.

The Carige board is due to meet later on Wednesday and an FITD meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

FITD's meeting is expected to consider BPER's proposal, two banking sources told Reuters, adding that the final decision would hinge on the willingness of Italian banks to contribute 1 billion euros to fund the deal.

If the deal goes through, BPER said it would begin a mandatory takeover offer for Carige's remaining shares at 0.80 euros per share, including a 29% premium over its Dec. 13 closing price.

($1 = 0.8875 euros)

Reporting by Francesca Landini and Andrea Mandala Editing by David Goodman

Source: Reuters

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