ROME, March 5 (Reuters) – Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) on Friday approved a preliminary agreement to sell SACE export agents to the Ministry of Finance in a deal that will add 4.25 billion euros ($ 5.07 billion) to that country’s public debt. , sources told Reuters.
SACE offers guarantees and financial support to Italian exporters. It is also working with banks to facilitate companies’ access to credit, a role that has grown since the coronavirus broke out in Italy a year ago.
The Ministry of Finance wants to directly control the export agency given its importance in supporting the economy.
Roma assists SACE as a co-insurer, in part sharing its exposure to risks that could potentially harm public finances over time.
SACE may also participate in plans to privatize the Monte dei Paschi bank in Siena.
Under the Treasury’s sponsored scheme, SACE and other private players will protect potential MPS buyers from a share of the 10 billion euros legal risk facing banks after decades of mismanagement.
The CDP board approved the agreement on Friday morning, paving the way for the Treasury Department to work out a decision to finalize the acquisition, two sources close to the matter told Reuters.
Sovereign lenders will transfer SACE to the Ministry of Finance in exchange for 4.25 billion euros in government bonds still to be issued. CDP’s liabilities do not count as public debt even though the Ministry of Finance controls it with 83% of the shares.
Rome’s debt pile of 2.6 trillion euros, equivalent to 155.6% of national output, is one of the largest in the world.
The deal reverses a divestment made during the sovereign debt crisis of 2012 by technocrat Mario Monti’s government, which sold SACE to the CDP for about 6 billion euros.
As part of the deal, CDP will buy SACE’s 76% stake in service provider SIMEST, which is partly owned by a group of Italian banks, for around 230 million euros. ($ 1 = 0.8386 euros) (Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte in Rome, Editing by Gavin Jones and Matthew Lewis)