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Generali buys 3% of Intesa Sanpaolo, ends previous securities deal

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(Reuters) — Italy's biggest insurer Assicurazioni Generali said on Friday it had bought 510 million shares in Intesa Sanpaolo equal to a 3.04% stake, effectively blocking the lender from acquiring a large stake in itself.

Intesa has said it is studying a possible combination with the insurer in a deal that would create a financial powerhouse with a market value of around €60 billion ($64 billion).

The stake acquisition replaces a 3% holding in Intesa that Generali had taken through a securities lending transaction last month. The insurer said on Friday that it had launched the process to terminate that securities transaction.

According to Italy's cross-shareholding regulations, a company cannot hold more than 3% of another entity's voting rights if the latter already has a stake of more than 3% in the former one.

However, the limits would no longer apply should Intesa launch a takeover bid for at least 60% of Generali's share capital.

At Friday's closing price, the 3.04% stake in Intesa is valued at around €1.1 billion euros ($1.17 billion).