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MILAN, May 31 (Reuters) – Italian billionaire Leonardo Del Vecchio has requested permission from the European Central Bank to increase its ownership in Mediobanca by up to 20%, a source on Sunday confirmed a press report.
Del Vecchio, 85, chairman of giant company EssilorLuxottica, became Mediobanca’s largest shareholder in November with ownership of just under 10% after the bank’s decade-long partner, UniCredit, sold all of its shares.
He needs ECB approval to lift shares above the 10% threshold. However, the source said getting the green light does not always mean a direct step by Del Vecchio.
The La Repubblica newspaper, which first reported the news of the request, said the ECB had 90 days to give its approval.
The ECB, Del Delchio holding Delfin and Mediobanca all declined to comment.
When Del Vecchio became Mediobanca’s largest shareholder, he said he aimed to create a stable ownership base for investment banks and insurance companies Generali, of which Mediobanca was the leading shareholder with 13%.
Del Vecchio also has a 4.8% stake in Generali, Italy’s biggest insurance company.
Mediobanca, since its founding in 1946, has never had a single non-banking shareholder above 10% and Del Vecchio’s move last year sparked speculation of an overhaul in Italian finance.
In October, sources who closed the issue said he wanted to have more control over Generali’s future including through the possibility of cross-border agreements. (Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi, Gianluca Semeraro, Valentina Za; Editing by Crispian Balmer)
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