The Italian Almanac

Bank of Italy

Italian News - March 22

Italyís banks face a pivotal week after Spainís Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) and Dutch group ABN Amro threw down the gauntlet over the Bank of Italyís restrictions on foreign takeovers in the sector. The central bank, facing the biggest test of its policy of barring foreign banks from controlling local lenders, must decide whether to block BBVA and ABN from bidding for two Italian firms.

A red light could trigger a fight with the European Commission, which recently asked the Bank of Italy to confirm it would not discriminate against a foreign bid. But giving the Spanish and Dutch companies the go-ahead could encourage more moves on Italy by other foreign banks.