(ANSAmed) – ROME, MARCH 11 – UniCredit on Friday put a freeze on the voting rights of shares held by Libya in Italy’s biggest bank in response to action taken by the European Union to pressure the regime of Muammar Gaddafi to end its crackdown on anti-government protestors.
Libya is UniCredit’s biggest shareholder with a stake of over 7.5%, held by the Libyan Central Bank (LCB)and the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA).
The LCB holds 4.98% of UniCredit while LIA has a stake of 2.59% in the bank, for a total estimated value of some 2.59 billion euros.
CB Vice President and LIA board member Faraht Omar Bangdara has a seat in the UniCredit board but officials at the Italian bank said he has been for the most part out of touch since the revolt began a couple of weeks ago.
LIA is Gaddafi’s financial arm to invest earnings from country’s oil and gas sales and is believed to have resources in the neighborhood of $40 billion.
LCB initially invested in UniCredit back in the beginning of the 1990s, when it bought a stake in Banca di Roma, which was later merged into UniCredit.
Libya also has shares in carmaker Fiat, aerospace and engineering giant Finmeccanica, fuels colossus ENI, soccer club Juventus and other companies including construction group Impregilo.
Tripoli also has big chunks of oil fields and pipelines operated by ENI. (ANSAmed)