Italy welcomes bank merger

Le Figaro reported yesterday that the Italian government has welcomed the takeover bid for BNL, the country's sixth-largest bank, by French banking group BNP Paribas.

The paper quoted Italian finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, as saying he regards it as a "good operation".

The minister also said that the kind of merger activity had begun which was habitual in other countries, but which had been hitherto hampered in Italy. He said that, in recent years, the Bank of Italy had only authorized

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