Hellman & Friedman In Talks for Fideuram Stake

MILAN (Reuters) – Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP.MI) is in preliminary talks with U.S. private equity fund Hellman & Friedman on taking a stake in its Banca Fideuram asset manager, the Italian bank said on Tuesday.

The talks are for Hellman & Friedman to take a minority holding in Fideuram, Italy’s biggest asset manager, when it is listed, Intesa Sanpaolo said in a statement.

The bank, Italy’s biggest retail lender, said discussions were at “a very preliminary stage (and) aimed at examining a possible interest” from Hellman & Friedman.

Il Messaggero newspaper had reported the U.S. fund could take a stake of 5 percent to 15 percent. It cited no sources.

Analysts have valued Fideuram at about 3 billion euros ($3.8 billion). Intesa Sanpaolo decided to list it in February to help boost its capital and a board member said then a listing could take place around June.

If all of the company’s shares were listed at the 3 billion euro valuation, the initial public offering could be the biggest in Italy since oil refiner Saras SpA (SRS.MI) made its market debut in May 2006 with a valuation of 5.2 billion euros.

Hellman & Friedman’s financial investments include stakes in Nasdaq and in insurer Arch Capital Group Ltd (ACGL.O), according to its website. (www.hf.com)

Shares in Intesa Sanpaolo were off 4.4 percent at 2.2975 euros at 1039 GMT. The STOXX Europe 600 banking index .SX7P was down 3.4 percent. (Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by David Holmes) ($1=.7872 Euro