The Italian government could be seeking a €15bn (£13bn, $16bn) loan from European authorities in a bid to save the country's banking sector, according to reports that emerged early on Wednesday morning (7 December).
Italian banks were among the worst-hit stocks in the immediate aftermath of Sunday's referendum, which saw Prime Minister Matteo Renzi tender his resignation, amid increasing fears that ongoing attempts to bolster the position of several lenders could be in jeopardy.
The vote has cast doubt over the future of Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), the world's oldest surviving bank. The lender, the most troubled of Italian banks is desperately looking to push through a €5bn recapitalisation plan, which could be abandoned due to "adverse market conditions".
However, according to reports in Turin-based newspaper La Stampa, Rome is considering applying for a €15bn bailout, which would be used to rescue MPS and a number of other smaller lenders. On Tuesday evening, Reuters suggested the Italian government could take a €2bn controlling stake in MPS, bringing its ownership of the bank up to 40%.
The plan, Reuters added, could also provide compensation for the bond-holders, who are increasingly worried over the bank's future.
News of the proposed bailout immediately breathed some life into MPS shares, which surged 10% shortly after the opening bell, while shares in Intesa Sanpaolo, Unicredit and Banco Popolare traded 3% higher and the wider Italian bank index climbed 3.5%.
However, the Italian Treasury and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) press office denied any such plans were being drawn up.
"No request to the European Stability Mechanism is being prepared," said a spokesman.
In 2012, Spain was the last Eurozone member to request a bailout from the ESM to help recapitalise its banking system.