UK private equity firm Pamplona acquires 5% stake in Italy’s UniCredit

UK-based private equity fund Pamplona Capital Management LLP said it had built a 5% stake in Italian lender UniCredit SpA (BIT:UCG) and became the bank’s second largest investor.

The Abu Dhabi investment fund Aabar holds the largest stake of 6.5% in the Italian lender.

Pamplona, which bought additional UniCredit stock to add to its previous 1.99% stake, said it wanted to capitalise on the expected restructuring of the banking sector in Europe.

The fund did not say how much it had paid for the UniCredit stock, but said it had used equity and debt financing to cover the deal. Based on current market prices, the stake it holds in the Italian bank is worth some EUR750m (USD).

The investment, one of the largest this year by a foreign group into an Italian company, was made through Pamplona’s EUR1bn fund The Pamplona Global Financial Institutions Fund backed by a number of institutional investors and targeting long and medium-term investments in European banks.

Reuters cited a spokesman for the private equity firm as saying that the transaction was cleared by the Italian regulators.

Russian Alfa Bank’s former CEO Alex Knaster founded Pamplona and remained a big investor in the group’s funds, the Financial Times said.

Pamplona Capital Management has over USD6bn of assets under management.
UniCredit share price has decreased by over 40% this year, Reuters said.