April 8, 2016 / 1:47 PM / 2 years ago

Unicredit CEO confirms Fortress contacted Popolare Vicenza

Thomas Pulley, Chief Investment Officer Fortress Investment Group (Japan) GK, speaks during a media roundtable on its investment strategies in Tokyo, Japan, November 20, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

CERNOBBIO, Italy (Reuters) - The head of Italian bank UniCredit (CRDI.MI) on Friday confirmed talks took place between Fortress Investment Group (FIG.N) and Banca Popolare di Vicenza (IPO-BPVS.MI), following reports that the U.S. firm had offered to invest in the cooperative lender.

UniCredit is guaranteeing the bulk of a 1.76 billion euro ($2 billion) share issue Popolare Vicenza is carrying out as it lists its shares on the Milan bourse this month in an effort to boost capital.

“I know they spoke but we can’t interfere,” UniCredit CEO Federico Ghizzoni told reporters on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti conference when asked about a Fortress proposal for Popolare Vicenza.

Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper reported on Friday that Fortress had offered to invest around 500 million euros in Popolare Vicenza’s share issue.

It would also buy the bank’s stock of troubled loans, the paper said, adding Popolare Vicenza was not enthusiastic about the proposal.

($1 = 0.8804 euros)

Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro, writing by Valentina Za,

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