Aabar Luxembourg, a wholly owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments, has acquired a 4.99% stake in Italian bank UniCredit for EUR1.84bn.

The investment makes Aabar the second biggest shareholder in UniCredit after Mediobanca, followed by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio Verona which holds 4.98% stake.

In March 2009, Aabar invested EUR49m in UniCredit’s hybrid equity-linked securities.

Aabar, along with other foreign investors Libyan Central Bank, Allianz and BlackRock, now holds almost 16% of UniCredit.

According to Bloomberg, Aabar is also planning to delist from the Abu Dhabi exchange to convert the company into a private joint-stock company and cancel the stock listing on the bourse.

Dieter Rampl, chairman of UniCredit, said: “UniCredit warmly welcomes the investment made by Aabar, which enlarges the stable shareholder base of the Group. We see it as a signal of trust in our company and its strategy by an important international institutional investor.”

Armen Papazian, a financial economist who is chief executive of Keipr, a consulting firm specializing in business analytics and intelligence, said: “Unicredit is a very interesting purchase from a number of different perspectives. Given the oil and manufacturing interests of Aabar and its parent, this acquisition indicates a healthy diversification strategy. Moreover, it is actually a healthy financial choice in its own right.

“This investment is well chosen in terms of target and timing. A year earlier this could have been a speculative choice. Today, the results confirm a steady and healthy comeback with an upward trend in the share price mirroring good fundamentals,” reported Gulf News.