MILAN (Reuters) – The privatisation of Italian lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena should foster the creation of several large banking groups in the country, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was quoted as telling the Milano Finanza newspaper on Saturday.

Monte dei Paschi (MPS), of which the government owns 64% following a 2017 bailout, is seen playing a pivotal role in the consolidation expected among Italy’s mid-sized lenders.

After failing to clinch a sale of MPS to UniCredit in 2021, the government is expected to seek another bank interested in buying its stake in the Tuscan lender.

“We want to manage the exit of the state from the capital of MPS in an orderly manner to create the conditions for more large banking groups in Italy,” Meloni was quoted as saying in an interview published on Saturday.

The government has just decided to renew Luigi Lovaglio’s mandate as MPS chief executive for another term.

“We must not repeat the mistakes of the past. We confirmed Lovaglio at the helm of Monte dei Paschi, the CEO successfully led the last capital increase, and now we must work to bring Monte back to the private market,” Meloni said.

The government is also working to sell ITA Airways, the successor of Alitalia, to Germany’s Lufthansa with a deal expected in the coming days.

“Lufthansa will have to ensure that Italy is at the centre of its interests and present an effective, growth-oriented business plan that serves the routes of trade and tourism,” Meloni said.

Regarding former phone monopoly TIM, she indicated that Rome was monitoring the group’s efforts to sell its landline grid and submarine cable unit Sparkle.

“The government will not intervene, it is alert to check that there are no situations that jeopardise the national interest,” Meloni told the newspaper.

TIM is now reviewing new non-binding bids for the assets it received from KKR and state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), which is working with Macquarie.

(Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Helen Popper)

FILE PHOTO: Monte dei Paschi di Siena