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Italy banking: How Carige beat the clock

Banca Carige pulled off a recapitalization last December that even chief executive Paolo Fiorentino thought difficult. It raised more than four times its market cap, just ahead of an ECB deadline. Euromoney asks how he did it and how the bank can reward its investors.



With a vital recapitalization of Banca Carige in the balance, a stranger approached Paolo Fiorentino late at night in the narrow medieval streets leading to his apartment in Genoa. “We will do it,” said the unknown man, grabbing the newly arrived chief executive’s arm and looking him intently in the eyes. 

Fiorentino recounts the incident as proof of Carige’s status and goodwill in Genoa, and of his own new-found local celebrity. But the stranger’s gesture might further highlight the level of regional and even national worry over this latest financial flashpoint: the fate of a top-10 Italian bank by assets.

As an end-of-year ECB deadline approached for a half-a-billion euro rights issue that would form the backbone of its €1 billion capital-strengthening efforts, Carige looked like it might follow private-sector capital raisings flunked over the past year by other regional lenders Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza

Without the government support those banks enjoyed, winding down Carige would have been a disaster for Genoa, Italy’s most important port.

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