Italian specialist pension fund Enasarco has acquired a 1.97% stake in Banco BPM in a deal valued at €101.5m ($107m), reported Reuters.

Enasarco, which oversees salespeople’s pensions, paid €3.4 per share, a 7.6% premium to the closing price of Banco BPM’s stock on 12 December 2022.

“The investment is part of Enasarco’s plans to develop its asset portfolio … including through investments that support the country’s real economy,” the fund was quoted by the news agency as saying.

As per the report, several investors in Banco BPM have entered a consultation pact to counter the influence of Credit Agricole, a French lender. 

In April this year, Credit Agricole acquired a 9.18% stake in the Italian banking group to strengthen and expand the scope of its consumer finance partnership with Banco BPM.

Following the acquisition, the French bank confirmed that it had no plans to buy a controlling stake in Banco BPM.

Italian banking foundations and pension funds, including Enpam and Inarcassa, which represent physicians and engineers, respectively are part of the pact, the report said. 

Together, these investors hold a 7.84% stake in Banco BPM and their holding would surpass Credit Agricole’s stake if Enasarco signs the pact. 

“Enasarco’s move … can be seen in terms of governance and reflects the will to create a strong base of local shareholders who could have a say in a possible M&A transaction,” broker Equita said in a statement. 

Banco BPM, which was formed in 2017 by merging Banco Popolare and Banca Popolare di Milano, had nearly €200bn in assets at the end of September 2022.