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UniCredit will request up to four billion euros

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After the Italian banking giant's profits fell 38 percent in 2008, UniCredit will request up to four billion euros (5.2 billion dollars) in state aid from Italy and Austria. The bank had reported a 54.2-percent slump in profits for the third quarter.

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AFP - Italian banking giant Unicredit will request up to 4.0 billion euros (5.2 billion dollars) in state aid from Italy and Austria, the bank said Wednesday after reporting a collapse in profits in 2008.

The bank's profits fell 38 percent in 2008 to 4.012 billion euros and by 56.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year alone because of a "severe financial crisis," the bank said in a statement.

The board has "mandated the CEO to negotiate the terms and conditions related to the issuance of government capital instruments for an amount of up to euro 4 billion" from Austria and Italy, the bank said.

Unicredit said it was seeking the aid "with the aim of further strengthening the existing policy of strong support to the economy and in order to align the group to the European competitive context," as other banks had received aid.

In November last year, Unicredit reported a 54.2-percent slump in profits for the third quarter, blaming "extreme conditions on financial markets."

The bank has also been hit by the financial scandal surrounding disgraced New York financier Bernard Madoff, with an exposure of up to 75 million euros.

 

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