© Reuters. People stand in front of Monte dei Paschi bank headquarters downtown Siena

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s state owned Monte dei Paschi could merge with lenders of similar size although the list of candidates is thin, Chief Executive Marco Morelli said on Monday.

“In theory Monte dei Paschi could be a merger partner for many banks, but the actual list (of candidates) is narrow”, Morelli told Italian daily Il Resto del Carlino.

The CEO added that another option was for the Italian Treasury, which owns a 68% stake following a bailout in 2017, to gradually reduce its stake.

Italy has to notify the European Union of its plan to exit Monte dei Paschi’s capital by the end of 2019.

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