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EU watchdog eyes gains from revalued Bank of Italy stakes: reports

A bicycle is parked in front of a Bank of Italy sign in Rome October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
A bicycle is parked in front of a Bank of Italy sign in Rome October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

MILAN (Reuters) - The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has raised doubts about whether Italian banks will be able to book gains in their 2013 results resulting from a hike in the value of stakes they hold in the Bank of Italy, newspapers said on Sunday.

Late last year Italy's government increased the value of the Bank of Italy's share capital to 7.5 billion euros ($10 billion)from 156,000 euros, a level that had not been changed since the 1930s.

In January a decree became law allowing lenders that own a stake in the central bank to include a capital gain from the revaluation of their own holding in their 2013 accounts.

But in February the European Commission said it was looking into the decree to see if it amounted to state aid.

Esma is ready to ask Italian banks not to include the gains in 2013 results, according to a report in La Repubblica newspaper.

Italian market watchdog Consob is also looking into how the gains from the revalued stakes would be booked and has raised the issue with the Bank of Italy and the Treasury, several newspapers said.

Esma and Consob were not immediately available for comment.

Potential gains could be sizeable for Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit , the two biggest shareholders in the central bank with stakes of 42 percent and 22 percent respectively. UniCredit reports its 2013 results this week.

($1 = 0.7214 euros)

(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Paul Simao)

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