Shares in Generali had previously jumped over eight per cent today after it was reported Intesa was preparing an offer for the €24bn (£21m) market cap firm in a deal that would be one of the sector’s largest takeovers.
Intesa Sanpaolo said in a statement this evening: "The management of Intesa Sanpaolo carefully examines, and will examine, any possible opportunities to strengthen its competitive positioning... These opportunities, including possible industrial combinations with Generali, are currently being examined by the bank’s management."
Generali has called a board meeting on Wednesday with Intesa's approach top of the agenda, sources told City A.M.
Also likely to be discussed is the future Generali’s finance chief Alberto Minali, after it emerged earlier this week he was preparing to tender his resignation.
Minali is understood to have clashed with chief exec Philippe Donnet, who took over at Generali following the departure of Mario Greco to Zurich.
Generali, the world’s third largest insurance firm, had taken a pre-emptive strike against a move from Intesa by taking 3.01 per cent shareholding in the Italian lender earlier this week.
According to Italy's cross-shareholding regulations, a company cannot hold more than three per cent of another entity's voting rights if the latter already has a stake of more than three per cent in that company.
Therefore, Intesa can buy more shares in Generali but its voting rights would be capped at three per cent. Critically, such a cap does not apply if Intesa were to increase its hold to 60 per cent.
Meanwhile, Italian regulators have summoned the bosses of Intesa, Generali and Unicredit to meet them over the next two days and explain the situation, according to reports by the Financial Times.