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BPM CEO sees synergies from M&A among Italian cooperative banks

MILAN, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Banca Popolare di Milano (BPM) expects a planned government reform of Italian cooperative lenders to speed up mergers in the sector and help banks cut costs.

CEO Giuseppe Castagna told an analyst call that BPM (PMII.MI) was not studying any possible combination with a rival at present.

"I believe synergies can be found and ... can be significant," he said.

The government decree transforming the 10 largest cooperative lenders into joint-stock companies is currently making its way through parliament, where it needs approval to remain in place.

Castagna said BPM was actively looking at ways to dispose of bad loans. He said tenders to sell pools of smaller loans had elicited a better market response than expected only a few months earlier.

BPM would be interested in a state-sponsodered initiative on bad loans only if it could sell the assets at a price that was not penalising, he said.