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Italian banks to take wine as collateral

The Italian agricultural minister has backed plans to accept fine wine as loan collateral from crisis-hit producers.

According to The Guardian newspaper, Gianni Zonin, chairman of the Banca Popolare di Vicenza and head of wine producer Zonin, which owns 10 estates across Italy, proposed the idea this week.

‘We’ve done it with cheese, so why not with good wines like Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico?’ he said.

‘This is a great idea, it has my blessing’, said agricultural minister Luca Zaia.

Banks can sell the wine if creditors default, so can afford to offer low interest rates to the wine industry that is suffering from supermarket discounting.

The plan follows an Italian tradition of accepting wheels of Parmesan cheese as collateral.

Italian bank Credito Emiliano has long stored thousands of Parmesan wheels, worth around €300 each, in warehouses as collateral while they mature.

There are already plans to expand beyond wine. ‘We may start with accepting wine as collateral, but I would prefer the Italian banking association to launch an industry-wide scheme which involves a range of companies’, Zonin added.

‘This will help producers in times of crisis’.

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Written by Lucy Shaw

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