Wednesday, January 4, 2012

To raise capital, Unicredit proposes selling stock at 43% discount

Italy's Unicredit is the first Eurozone bank to test the equity markets to try to raise capital to meet the 9% Tier I capital ratio.  To attract buyers, Unicredit is offering current shareholders the opportunity to buy more shares at a 43% discount to yesterday's closing stock price.

If the offering is going to be successful, Unicredit is going to have to provide significantly more disclosure on its exposures.

Investors have learned not to buy financial 'black boxes', and Unicredit is a giant black box loaded with unknown exposures, as a result of their experience buying sub-prime mortgage backed structured finance securities.

According to a Guardian article,

Stephen Hester, the chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, remarked last year that investors thought it was "dumb" to invest in banks.  
Over the next few months, it will become clearer if his remarks are correct as banks across Europe race to plug the €106bn (£88.2bn) shortfall that regulators believe they need to survive the eurozone crisis
UniCredit is the first big test. 
Embarking upon its third capital hike since the 2008 banking crisis, the Italian bank is currently enduring significant pain on the markets. Its shares have fallen 10%, and been suspended, after it priced its €7.5bn cash call at a 43% discount – larger than expected – to Tuesday night's share price.... 
Not all of the banks across Europe deemed to have shortfalls (all UK banks were given a clean bill of health) will embark on such cash calls. Others are selling off businesses and reducing their risky loans, but the plight of UniCredit is regarded as important. 
Louise Cooper, markets analyst at BGC Capital, said. "This will be a key test for investors' appetite for bank share offerings and will be closely watched by corporate brokers whose banking clients desperately need to raise new equity."

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