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UPDATE 1-Monte Paschi management not involved in talks on when, if Treasury could sell stake

(Adds quote, details and background)

ROME, Sept 22 (Reuters) - The management of Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena is not involved in any talks on if and when the Treasury may sell its stake in the lender, the bank’s Chief Executive Guido Bastianini said on Tuesday.

Bastianini was replying to a question on a press report claiming there had been contacts between UniCredit and the Treasury over the possible sale of the state’s 68% stake in the lender.

“If the Economy Ministry... decides if and when to sell the bank it is clearly part of talks that quite frankly the management is not involved in,” Bastianini said in a parliamentary hearing.

Italian daily La Repubblica reported on Tuesday the Treasury had turned to UniCredit to buy its stake in Monte Paschi but added UniCredit was only ready to engage in talks if it was properly compensated for the risks any such acquisition would entail.

UniCredit declined to comment.

Rome rescued Monte dei Paschi in 2017, spending 5.4 billion euros for its controlling stake, which under the terms of the bailout negotiated with Brussels must be sold next year.

Although Italy’s co-ruling 5-Star Movement wants the state to delay its exit from the Tuscan lender, sources told Reuters the Treasury is working to find a buyer by the end of the year.

Monte dei Paschi was laid low by years of mismanagement and faces billions of euros in legal claims from disgruntled investors, seen as a major hurdle to a merger.

Bastianini said he believed the bank had good grounds for countering legal claims filed against it by Fondazione MPS to the tune of 3.8 billion euros.

The Fondazione is a charitable foundation which used to control the Tuscan lender and which saw its wealth vanish as the bank sank deeper into trouble.

Reporting by Stefano Bernabei, writing by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Giulia Segreti and Kirsten Donovan

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