Today's Joke Du Jour Comes From Italy's Biggest Bank, UniCredit

As we have been claiming for months now, Italian banks will have no choice but to raise capital to prevent their undercapitalized status from stirring the insolvent bank vigilantes and making them into the next MF, or Lehman, or pick your favorite bankrupt bank metaphor. Today we get confirmation of this, after Reuters reported that Italy's UniCredit will proceed with a €4 to €7 billion capital raise. So far so good. Where it gets somewhat entertaining is the disclosure of who it is that will be "advising" UniCredit on its capital raise. Per Reuters, "Mediobanca and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch are advising Italy's UniCredit on a capital increase seen in a range of between 4 billion and 7 billion euros, although no formal mandate has been given yet to form a consortium for the operation, sources close to the matter said on Thursday. The sources said a decision on the size of the capital hike depended on a series of factors, including whether UniCredit would be allowed to calculate convertible notes worth some 3 billion euros as core capital." Did they just say Mediobanca and Bank of America advising another bank on... a capital raise? Uh, pardon our ignorance, but shouldn't Mediobanca and Bank of America be focusing on their own capitalization first before advising someone else? Does this mean that Bernie Madoff has somehow magically made his way to the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee and is now advising Tim Geithner on how to raise debt? Or that Jon Corzine is running for US Attorney General? Frankly, nothing would surprise us any more... Presenting the YTD performance of all three banks.


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