ECB's Visco Urges Italy's Banks To Go Further To Shed Bad Debts


Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco on Saturday backed moves by some of the country's lenders to get rid of non performing loans on their books and suggested that "more ambitious" approaches could be considered.

Italy's top two banks, Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.
MI) and UniCredit (CRDI.
MI), are in preliminary talks with U.
investor KKR (KKR.
N) about setting up a fund to hold some of the lenders' problematic loans, sources close to the matter have told Reuters.

"The actions under way at a number of banks to rationalize the management of non-performing loans by creating dedicated structures able to enhance the efficiency of the procedures and the transparency of these assets go in the right direction," Visco said in a speech in Rome.

"More ambitious interventions, whose compatibility with European rules must be pondered, are not to be ruled out," he added, without being more specific.

Visco said that while Italy seemed to be emerging from its longest post-war recession, the recovery still appeared "weak and uncertain" and domestic demand was still struggling despite an improvement in exports.

The only way to regain public trust in a banking system discredited in the eyes of ordinary people was through "decisive improvements to governance," and by increasing lending to firms and families, he said.