US private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management is in talks with Banca Popolare Etruria in order to buyt its subsidiary Banca Lecchese, il Sole 24 Ore.wrote. Banca Lecchese is a small bank which was born in the Nineties. It has about 257 milioni euros of assets under administration.
That something was going on it was somewhat clear when in mid-May Banca Etruria announed a 4.9 million euro capital increase for Banca Lecchese. Back then MF-Milano Finanza wrote that the move sounded rather unusual as Banca Etruria was under a bankrupcty procedure (more in detail “amministrazione straordinaria”) so it looked like to foreshadow a sale.
Actually at the end of May, after an extraordinary meeting of Banca Lecchese’s shareholders, in a press release Banca Etruria explained that Banca Lecchese’s capital increase which had been just approved was functional to the sale of the whole stake of Banca Lecchese’s capital owned by Etruria itself (54.212%) to a leading international fund. The bank added that the deal was subject to some conditions with the go ahead by Italian supervisory Authorities among them.
Oaktree might then subscirbe Banca Lecchese’s capital increase and become its controllng shareholder. The fund might then use the bank as a platform from which to build a group active in the financial services sector thanks to other acquisitions on the Italian market as mergers among Italy’s banks is expected in the next few months to overcome excessive fragmentation in the industry.
Oaktree, which has a strong activity in distressed assets and special situaions, had made some deals in Italy already. For example back in 2007 it bought the 100% of Conbipel‘s capital (thorugh Ocm Luxembourg Stilo Investement sarl) a men and women’s retail chain in distress.
Two years ago Oaktree sold to Pai Partners the icrecream giant R&R Icecream, a group which Oaktree created in 2007 merging its two portfolio companies Richmond Ice Cream (UK) and Roncadin (an Italian company bought in 2005) and buying other minor companies in Europe afteerwards. The fund had been buying also a 40% stake in the whole financial debt of yacht maker Ferretti and sold it at the end of 2011 to Chinese Shandong Heavy Industry Group.
Oaktree used to own also some wellknown Italian brands in the spirits market such as Stock ’84, Limoncé and Amaro Radis that together with Keglevich vodka and other leading vodka brands in Poland and the Czech republic are owned by Stock Spirits Group. The latter is a spirts maker group which was created by Oaktree in 2007 merging its portfolio companies Eckes&Stock and Polmos Lublin. The group was listed in London in October 2013.