MILAN, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Italy's third-largest bank Banco
BPM has signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to
explore a potential tie-up with Credit Agricole Italy as part of
ongoing discussions with the French group, a source familiar
with the matter said.
The source said the agreement had been signed as a customary
step that allows the exchange of confidential information and
did not prevent Banco BPM from discussing other merger options.
Banco BPM and Credit Agricole have been in talks over the
future of their Agos consumer credit joint-venture, but sources
with knowledge of the matter had told Reuters there had also
been preliminary contacts over a possible deal.
Il Messaggero daily reported on Thursday the two banks were
preparing to enter formal merger talks.
A person close to Banco BPM said earlier on Thursday recent
contacts with Credit Agricole had still centred on Agos, though
Banco BPM was open to discussing merger options with all
potential partners. Credit Agricole declined to comment.
(Reporting by Andrea Mandala, editing by Valentina Za)