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Italy's Monte dei Paschi to open data room within days - sources

ROME, Jan 13 (Reuters) - State-owned Monte dei Paschi is expected to grant access to confidential data to potential merger partners within days, three sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Italy is pressing ahead with re-privatisation efforts for the country’s fourth-largest bank despite rifts within the ruling coalition that risk precipitating a government crisis.

Monte dei Paschi (MPS) has unveiled an up to 2.5 billion euro ($3.04 billion) capital shortfall and is due to present a plan to fill it to the European Central Bank by the end of the month.

To secure a lasting solution to the bank’s woes, the Treasury is keen to strike a merger deal for MPS and had been focusing on UniCredit as the ideal partner.

With UniCredit now in the process of picking a new chief executive after CEO Jean Pierre Mustier said in November he would step down by mid-April, MPS is looking also at possible alternatives.

MPS said on Monday its advisers would explore options in light of the opening of the data room. In addition to UniCredit, Banco BPM, BPER Banca, Credit Agricole Italia and BNL-BNP Paribas will be sounded out, two of the sources said.

Asked to comment on the list of names, both MPS’ advisers Mediobanca and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Banco BPM at present does not include MPS among possible merger options but its advisers stand ready to assess the situation were they to be contacted, a source close to Banco BPM has said.

BPER Banca declined to comment. Credit Agricole Italy and BNL-BNP Paribas were not immediately available for comment.

A financial source said Credit Agricole Italy, which plans to launch a takeover bid for smaller rival Creval, had no interest for MPS. ($1 = 0.8214 euros) (Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Valentina Za; Additional reporting by Andrea Mandala; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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