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Italy's Intesa working on potential sale of Russian business - CEO

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FILE PHOTO: New Intesa Sanpaolo skyscraper, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, is seen in Turin
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MILAN (Reuters) - Intesa Sanpaolo is working on a potential sale of its Russian business though international sanctions restrict the number of possible buyers making it a tall order, the head of Italy's biggest bank said on Wednesday.

"We're trying to work to select counterparties, but you know that the majority of them are under sanctions, so it is theoretical," Chief Executive Carlo Messina said when asked if Intesa could divest its Russian arm.

Messina said Intesa was looking for "the best solution" for its Russian exposure, which comprises both an onshore business serving corporate clients and cross-border loans.

"We will see what we can do," he added, speaking on the sidelines of a financial conference in Milan.

Intesa last month cut its profit guidance for the year after setting aside 800 million euros ($847 million) to cover potential losses from its exposure to Russia.

(Reporting by Valentina Za, Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Federico Maccioni)

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