Hints of Kazakh interest give a boost to UniCredit

David Hellier
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SHARES in UniCredit, the Italian bank in the throes of a massive rights issue, were boosted yesterday by suggestions that a Kazakhstan wealth fund had amassed a five per cent stake.

Il Giornale newspaper said Samruk Kazyna had built up the disclosable holding but yesterday the fund said the report was inaccurate, without saying whether it owned any shares in UniCredit.

UniCredit shares, however, closed the day up 13.5 per cent at €2.90, and are now looking healthier than they were at the beginning of the week when it was feared that a big percentage of the rights shares on offer would end up in the hands of the underwriters.

Sources close to the €7.5bn rights issue said that an intensive marketing campaign in Europe to hedge funds and long-only investors was beginning to pay dividends.

The UniCredit share price has tumbled from a 2011 high last summer of €9.09 to €5.43 on 11 November, just before the rights issue was announced, before falling to €4.22 at the year-end and then to a low of €2.28 this week.

The rights price is just €1.90.