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Unicredit has repaid 5 billion euros of ECB LTRO funding: CEO

Italy's largest bank UniCredit is pictured in downtown Milan September 12, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

MILAN (Reuters) - UniCredit (UCG.MI), Italy's biggest bank by assets, has paid back 5 billion euros of the cheap liquidity it acquired from the European Central Bank so far, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

"We have another 21 billion euros to repay," Federico Ghizzoni said during a press conference.

Ghizzoni said that with European banking union it would be possible "on paper" for banks to repatriate capital from their units outside their home country.

"I expect it will go in that direction," he said, adding however that in the medium term UniCredit did not have any liquidity problems.

UniCredit has long complained that restrictions in Germany did not allow it to repatriate as much liquidity as it would have wanted from its German unit HVB.

The CEO said the sale of bad loan portfolios was under way and that there had been concrete interest. The amount in question was not hundreds of euros but more towards one billion euros, he said.

($1 = 0.7283 euros)

(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Andrea Mandala, editing by Silvia Aloisi)