U.S. P-E funds eye Popolare's "bad bank"

A sign of growing interest in distressed real estate and credit in Italy, five U.S. private equity funds are sniffing around the "bad bank" unit of Italy's Banco Popolare (BPMLF, BPMLY), reports Reuters, with sources saying Apollo Global (APO -1.3%), Blackstone (BX +0.6%), and Fortress (FIG -0.3%) are among those in the running.

The unit's name is Release and it mainly owns loans linked to leasing contracts with Italian clients, "so it's business is in both property and credit," says one source. An analyst puts the business' book value at about €300M.

Due diligence is set to start in April, with binding offers to follow.

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