Italy ready to use its golden powers over the sale of Milan bourse

Italy is ready to use its vetting "golden" powers over strategic assets to ensure the Milan stock exchange, Borsa Italiana, is not sold to an unacceptable bidder, Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said on Wednesday.

The London Stock Exchange (LSE), which bought Borsa Italiana for €1.6bn in 2007, has put it on sale to win EU approval for its $27 bn takeover of data company Refinitiv, Reuters recalls. Gualtieri said in a statement he hoped Borsa Italiana, which controls the key bond-trading platform MTS, would not end up in the hands of a company outside the Eurozone. He said the government was following the situation closely, "aware of the strategic importance that Borsa Italiana and MTS have for the correct workings of the Italian financial market and the entire Italian economic and production system."

Rome considers sovereign bond trading platform MTS of strategic importance as it ramps up borrowing to boost its economy that has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deutsche Boerse, the Swiss stock exchange Six and a consortium comprising France's Euronext and Italian state-lender CDP are all expected to present offers for Borsa Italiana, sources have told Reuters. Rome "strongly wants" the consortium of CDP and Euronext to prevail, an Italian government source said following Gualtieri's statement.

Italian law allows the government to block attempts by EU and non-EU players to acquire a controlling stake in any company deemed strategically important. Last month, the ruling coalition also increased the powers available to market regulator Consob to shield the country's stock exchange.

The deadline for non-binding bids for the Borsa Italiana group is 11 September, sources said last month.

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