Brief – Fazio denies protectionism in Italian banking sector

Antonio Fazio, the governor of the Italian
central bank, has denied that Italy is operating an
“anti-foreigners” policy regarding banking mergers.

Foreign-owned stakes in Italian banks stand at
17%, a figure higher than those of other member states, says Mr
Fazio. He was responding to a letter from Internal Market
Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, sent on 9 Feb 2005 (see EURACTIV 10 Feb). 

Mr McCreevy’s unprecedented letter, not prompted
by any legal breach by Italy, had asked for an assurance that
Italy was not discriminating against foreign takeover bids for
Italian banks. The letter reflects the Commission’s concern that
there are too many obstacles in the way of efficient cross-border
mergers in the European banking sector.

The Commission plans a report on cross-border
mergers in the banking sector expected in May and a full report in
September.

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