Italian insurance company Unipol-Compagnia Assicuratrice is believed to be considering a cash offer to acquire the Spanish targeted Italian bank Banca Nazionale del Lavoro.

Spanish bank Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria has already made a share offer for Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL). However a report from the La Repubblica newspaper suggests that Unipol may be ready to make a bid to block the Spanish take over.

In a saga that has conjured up parallels with the recent ABN Amro attempt to buy Banca Antonveneta, Unipol has been regularly increasing its stake in BNL over the last few weeks, swelling its stock from under 2% just a couple of weeks ago to a current level of 10%.

And once again Italian banking sector boss Antonio Fazio appears to be keen to support Unipol’s endeavors despite the fact that Italian bank UniCredito’s current move for German bank HVB opens him up to the charge of double standards. Banco Bilbao is believed to be unhappy that the Bank of Italy has imposed a 50% shareholder offer take up figure before it will give its approval.

However, Unipol will need to find in the region of E7 billion in financing to capture the 90% of BNL shares it does not own in order to successfully defeat the take over attempt by the Iberian bank, which could yet be its biggest challenge.