Seeking solutions: Italy’s Banks
 
It has been a bad year for bank stocks but Italian lenders have had it particularly hard. Some hope lies with a new round of funding that opens today for Atlante, a private bank-rescue fund orchestrated by the government in April. Of the €4.25 billion ($4.7 billion) it raised then, €2.5 billion was spent on saving two ailing northern banks. Atlante 2 is expected to gather at least €2.4 billion, including some of the original fund, aiming to kick-start the market for Italy’s €360 billion in non-performing loans—one-third the euro-zone total. The first deal, expected in the autumn, will be for Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy’s third-biggest and most troubled bank, which fared worst under the European Banking Authority’s latest stress tests. Italy’s fragmented banking system is one of Europe’s least-profitable; consolidation looms. But banks will anyway struggle to get on track unless economic growth picks up.
 

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