Intesa CEO talking to several investors over wealth management deal

MARGHERA, Italy (Reuters) - Intesa SanPaolo is still in the early stages of looking for an investor in its wealth management unit and is talking to several potential partners, the chief executive of Italy's biggest retail bank said on Friday.

Intesa Sanpaolo said in February that it would seek a partnership with a global player in asset management via the sale of a minority stake in its Eurizon unit.

The Financial Times reported this week that BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, was in talks about buying a 10 percent stake in Eurizon.

"We're assessing various options with a number of global international players and clearly the world's best ones," CEO Carlo Messina told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Marghera, Italy, when asked about the report.

"But we haven't decided anything yet and there isn't just one (potential partner) we're talking to ... We're still in an initial phase," he added.

First among Italian banks to shift away from the traditional lending activity, Intesa has successfully built a business model centred on fees earned through insurance and asset management, an industry where economies of scale are seen as key.

Intesa targets 10 billion euros ($11.6 billion) in fees in 2021, accounting for 48 percent of annual revenues up from 45 percent in 2017.

Financial sources have confirmed Intesa has talked to BlackRock among others. One source said that talks with BlackRock were more advanced on a commercial partnership.

BlackRock declined to comment.

($1 = 0.8617 euros)

(Reporting by Riccardo Bastianello, additional reporting by Gianluca Semeraro and Valentina Za in Milan and Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Susan Fenton)