Libya seeks board representation at Italy's Unicredit

The Libyan stake in Italian bank Unicredit dropped below five per cent after the bank’s capital increase in January. Previously Libya was Unicredit’s largest shareholder; the Libyan central bank held 4.98 per cent and total Libyan presence amounted to 7.6 per cent taking into account shares held by the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA).

Both the Libyan central bank and the LIA only subscribed in part to the rights issue and it is estimated that the Libyan now hold a total of around 4.3 per cent of Unicredit.

"We're looking to make UniCredit a point of reference for foreign investments and we will continue to do so. Whether we enter the board or not," Salem told Il Sole 24 Ore. Unicredit will, it appears, remain a strategic investment for ‘new Libya’. Following the ‘unfreezing’ of the central bank’s assets, Salem estimated its foreign exchange reserves at $116 billion.

"A Libyan on the board would represent an advantage for Libya and for Italy. It would allow us to understand in greater depth the structure of the economy, the investment criteria, the market," the newspaper quotes Salem as saying. "We could consider other investments, either by the central bank or the LIA."

Salem also apparently dismissed any prospect of selling out of Unicredit. "Sell now? That would be crazy. We would lose more than EUR1 billion. And, anyway, the Libyan stake in UniCredit is not under discussion. It is a long-term investment. We're convinced that we will be paid back with growth."

(Source: CPI Financial)

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